Tisdale grapples with injury crisis
Exeter City manager Paul Tisdale faces an injury crisis ahead of tonight's trip to npower League Two basement dwellers Barnet.
The Grecians' boss has seen four central midfielders hit by injuries, and will have an anxious wait to see if any of them can be patched up to play against the Bees at Underhill.
Matt Oakley picked a knee injury during last Saturday's 2-1 home defeat at the hands of Bristol Rovers, while Tommy Doherty suffered a thigh strain in the same match.
Liam Sercombe remains on the sidelines with the ankle injury he picked up against York City a fortnight ago and has been ruled out of the clash. To make matters worse, Scot Bennett was carried off against Rovers with a worrying leg injury.
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Tisdale said that the club will not know exactly how long Bennett faces on the sidelines until he has X-rays. City have to wait until the swelling goes down before the extent of the injury can be diagnosed.
It all adds to a nightmare scenario for Tisdale, whose side's early-season promise has taken a dent following two straight defeats. But he is harbouring hopes that both Oakley and Doherty can make late recoveries and start against the Bees.
"Liam won't play against Barnet and Scot is definitely out, so we're in a rather sticky situation with regards to our central midfield," Tisdale said. "I'm hoping that I can get Matt and Tommy patched up for the game.
"It's far from ideal and not a great time to be picking up injuries, with the games coming thick and fast. But every side are going to have the same issues this year.
"Once you get to this level of football, clubs tend to have smaller squads and we all have to be careful when dealing with these types of situations. So as much as it's not perfect, we won't be the only team with injuries to cope with."
Should any of the senior midfield players fail to bounce back from injury, Tisdale said he is not worried about the prospect of throwing one or two youngsters into the side.
The City boss has been waxing lyrical about the quality of the youth talent at the club, and he has backed them to take their chance when they are eventually called upon. "Two of our younger players have already stepped up and done extremely well, and maybe one or two more will have to do it," he said.
"There are some very good young players coming through, and when they get their chance I'm sure they'll take it."
It is not just in central midfield where Tisdale faces a selection worry, after striker Alan Gow picked up a knee injury in Saturday's defeat.
The Scotsman had just returned from a three-week lay off with a thigh injury, but got a kick on his knee from former City midfielder Matt Gill during the second half.
Tisdale expressed frustration at losing Gow so soon after getting him back fit, and may hand John O'Flynn a starting spot alongside seven-goal striker Jamie Cureton.
"Alan is going to miss out tonight," added Tisdale. "He has got some bad swelling above his knee, which is a shame for us and a shame for him. It is just the way things are going for us at the moment. We have to accept these things and move on."
Barnet are rooted to the foot of the table, having drawn two and lost two of their opening four home games. Former Plymouth Argyle goalkeeper Graham Stack is banned tonight, after being sent off in the 2-1 loss at Fleetwood Town at the weekend, so Sam Cowler is likely to deputise.
Exeter City (from): Krysiak, Evans; Amankwaah, Tully, Woodman, Moore-Taylor, Baldwin, Coles, Oakley, Davies, Cureton, Doherty, Gow, Frear, O'Flynn, Bauza, Keohane, Nichols, Chamberlain, Cane, Micklewright, Roper, Wannell.
Doubtful: Oakley (knee), Doherty (thigh).
Unavailable: Bennett (leg), Sercombe (ankle), Gow (ankle).