GUISELEY’s FIXTURE congestion may now be reaching alarming levels, but the last thing you will see Mark Bower doing is bemoaning his lot.
The Lions copped more frustration at the weekend when their home encounter with Stockport County was postponed due to a waterlogged pitch at Nethermoor, where Bower’s side haven’t played since their last league game on Boxing Day.
The tenth-placed side have at least three games in hand on the sides above them and have played five matches fewer than Yorkshire rivals Harrogate Town, their last league opponents on December 26.
Guiseley are due in action this evening against one of the rivals they are competing against in their play-off quest away at Solihull Moors, the first of six midweek sides they will face over a strength-sapping six-week run.
All told, Guiseley will play 12 games between now and March 1 and must negotiate eight matches in February, weather permitting.
But Bower insists the frenetic spell represents an opportunity not an obstacle.
Bower, whose side are 11 points adrift of the team occupying the final play-off position in fifth-placed Altrincham, who have played three matches more than them, said: “Over the next six midweeks, we’ve definitely got games, with a couple of long trips thrown in as well.
“It’s a test and we do have a fit bunch of lads.
“But people will have seen at Aldershot that we kept going right until the end, so the spirit and fitness is there within the players.
“And at the end of the day, I think the players would rather be playing than training.
“We’ve got to make sure we keep on top of it and the players are in the best possible shape they can be.
“If it means changing it about, we will do that.
“You are also going to pick up little injuries, suspensions, dips in form and tired legs, so it’s important we can mix it up a little bit and bring some fresh faces in. It keeps everyone on their toes as well.”
The inactive spell has at least enabled Guiseley’s dressing-room to clear, with the only major absentees being Jack Rea and Danny Ellis.
Defender Ellis, a lynchpin of the Lions’ line-up in recent seasons, only for injury to ravage his campaign so far in 2013-14, should be back in the fray in the near future, having been out for most of this season with a knee injury.
The availability again of Ellis should help compensate for the recent departure of experienced centre-back Adam Lockwood, with the Wakefield-born player having joined up with Oldham Athletic following a short spell at Nethermoor.
Bower admits he is looking forward to having Ellis fit and available again, with the Guiseley chief having also boosted his ranks by bringing in former Norwich City and York City player Oli Johnson.
The weather scuppered Johnson’s hopes of a debut against another of his former clubs in Stockport on Saturday and Bower is hoping he can make his bow in tonight’s clash with Moors.
On Ellis being back in the reckoning shortly, Bower said: “Danny is not far off at all and is back training full time, although he is short of match fitness. We will use him over the next week or so.
“Most players are available, which is good because we need as many people available as we can.
“Danny has virtually been out for my entire reign, bar the first game. We lost Lockwood a couple of weeks ago to Oldham and discussed if we needed a replacement.
“But with Danny, he’s a big, dominant centre-half at this level and hopefully we can get him fit and firing on all cylinders.
“It will probably take him a bit of time as he’s been out for a while. But he’s a naturally fit lad and we’re aiming to be selecting him sooner rather than later.”
Also in action tonight, weather permitting, are Brighouse Town, who can move up four places above fifth-placed Albion Sports, with victory over sixth-placed Armthorpe Welfare at the Dual Seal Stadium.
Only one Evo-Stik League side are due to take the field this evening, with Frickley Athletic – who suffered a poor 4-1 reverse across the Pennines at Trafford at the weekend – in Doodson Sport Cup action at First Division South strugglers Brigg Town in a third-round clash.
Wakefield’s home derby with Farsley will take place this Friday evening at the Rapid Solicitors Stadium.