Injuries proving a bit of a niggle for bullish Bower

Danny Ellis
Danny Ellis
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MARK BOWER admits he has no real preference who his Guiseley side face in the Vanarama North play-offs.

The Lions wrap up the regular season with a long trip to Oxford City tomorrow, guaranteed of participation in the end-of-season play-offs for the fifth successive season at this level.

It remains to be seen who Guiseley draw with the first leg taking place next Wednesday followed by the second instalment tomorrow week.

The results permutations are such that Mark Bower’s side could technically face one of four different sides in the play-off semi-finals, title-chasing duo Barrow or AFC Fylde or Boston United or Chorley.

Both Barrow and Fylde are going head to head for the title, with the Bluebirds, two points clear, targeting victory to clinch silverware at the expense of the Lancastrians, who are waiting for any slip up from the leaders.

One of those sides will finish in second, ahead of facing a play-off date with the side finishing in fifth, with Guiseley currently being that side.

But Guiseley could yet finish third or fourth, with just one point separating them and Boston, in third, with the sides who end the season in those positions facing each other.

Bower said: “You can look at it in two ways. The team who finishes second will have been going for automatic promotion, but just missed out and finish so many points ahead of the others.

“A side going to win the league could end up being in the play-offs, which they didn’t want to be in.

“But you can’t think too much about it. From experience and speaking to other managers, you have to deal with whoever you get.”

One thing is for sure, Bower will not gamble on any players’ fitness in tomorrow’s encounter, with a crucial play-off clash coming up in five days time.

Selection problems, particularly at centre-half, have beset Guiseley all term, with Bower also mindful of ensuring key men are ready for the play-off games.

Tuesday’s injury developments in the loss to North Ferriby didn’t help and Bower will be taking no chances.

He said: “We want to win the game as, ideally, we want to finish as high as we can. But it’s a a conundrum as niggly injuries have disrupted us all season.

“Centre-half is the position that has hurt us more than most. On Tuesday, we had Danny Hall suspended and Ben Parker injured.

“Jake Lawlor came off at half-time ill and Danny Ellis did his calf, so that’s four players who have played in that position.

“We have not been able to pick any successful pairings, whereas Fylde and Barrow have been able to, week in week out. So we have got to make sure we protect people as we can’t afford any more injuries, especially in that department.

“Moreso, we need players match fit and ready to go, so there is a balance.”

Elsewhere tomorrow, Harrogate Town and Bradford Park Avenue head to Stockport County and North Ferriby.

In the Conference, FC Halifax visit Woking (5.15pm).