STORKS boss Craig Chadwick is confident that he has the strength in depth at the Arbories to help remedy his selection headache.
His growing injury list now includes Keiran Fletcher, Dominic Slaven who sustained a hamstring injury, Stuart Telfer with a strained knee ligament and Luke Thompson with a broken wrist.
But while the walking wounded seek solace on the treatment table Chadwick feels he has the personnel to fill the void: “We’ve got a squad big enough and with enough quality to cope with those casualties. We knew at the start of the season that we’d have to get a decent squad together to compete. The lads have shown a big improvement in the last three games in terms of commitment and showing heart in their performances.”
Padiham sit just below mid-table at present, notching up just three wins in 12 outings. And Chadwick feels the competitiveness of the North West Counties Premier Division this season has taken them by surprise.
“We expected it to be a bit easier than it has been in all honesty,” said Chadwick. “It’s been a shock to the system but all credit to the opposition because in every game they’ve come at us and prevented us from playing football.”
Prolific hitman Paul Fildes recently parted company with the Storks, opting to join high-flying Barnoldswick Town. However, Chadwick has more than enough options to fill the former striker’s boots.
“Paul’s guaranteed to get you 25 or 30 goals a season if he keeps himself fit,” Chadwick said. “But we’ve got four talented strikers in Jordan Hulme, Andrew Sensale, Michael Morrison and we’ve re-signed Lee Morris (left).
“They are all capable of stepping in to Paul’s shoes.
“It’s great because whichever combination I play they work really hard together and their work rate benefits the rest of the team.
“They close the opposition down which is good because defending starts from the front. They really put the effort in.”
Next up for the Storks is table-topping Winsford United at the Barton Stadium. Ian Street’s side will be looking to do the double over Padiham to maintain their title charge after recording a 3-0 victory at the Arbories in August.
Chadwick said: “We’ve got Winsford United away. Everyone will look to the 3-0 defeat at home against them a few weeks ago but we created enough chances in that game to win it comfortably.
“We gave a sloppy goal away at the start and then when we gambled in search of an equaliser we left ourselves open a bit and they scored twice.
“If we play to our potential then we have nothing to fear.”
Now Chadwick wants a response from his players after Hulme rescued a point for Padiham in the 1-1 draw at home to Alsager Town at weekend: “The lads know that the competition for places is fierce.
“They already know that their places in the starting XI aren’t automatic and we’ve still got other players to come back in to the fray.
“I have to try and keep the players happy but they understand the way I work and what I want from them.
“If I feel the need to freshen things up then I will do.”