Fixture backlog could see Ashington playing three games a week, fears coach

Ashington FC's James Harmison.

Ashington FC's James Harmison.

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Ashington are heading for a fixture pile-up in the second half of the current campaign and could face having to play up to three games a week, fears Colliers head coach Ian Skinner.

Skinner said: “I’m a bit of a statistician. Maybe I overthink things, but there are officially 14 weeks of the season left, and if we play twice a week between now and then, it gives you 28 games.

“As we stand, we have got 25 league games, plus two cup games, so that is 27 fixtures, leaving one free midweek or Saturday.

“If we progress in the cup competitions, then, unless the league gets dispensation from the Football Association, to extend the campaign, we will be playing three games a week.”

Meanwhile, after their scheduled clash against Washington was called off last Saturday, Ashington moved quickly to set up a friendly against Ryton and Crawcrook Albion at the town’s Northumberland Church of England Academy.

“During the period we have been idle from league action, we have played a couple of friendlies, which has helped with the fitness progression of James Harmison, James Taylor and Dylan Williamson,” said Skinner.

“Harmison has got almost three lots of 90 minutes under his belt and has come through unscathed.

“James Taylor played for 45 minutes against Ryton, and Dylan also got 40 minutes as well, but we need to be careful, especially with Taylor and Williamson.

“Taylor has been out for almost 10 months now, with Williamson sidelined since October, if not before.

“We have waited this long, and it would be daft to rush them back.

“They are at a point now where psychologically they are on a pitch and are ready to pull on their boots and shin-pads and play in a competitive fixture, and we need to manage that, because the last thing we would want would be for

them to suffer a recurrence of the same injury.”

Skinner added: “The squad is quite thin, with a couple of players moving on, but we are actively looking to bring players in.

“However, that is proving difficult because virtually no one is playing matches.

“Hopefully, once the fixtures get under way again, we will be in the market to bring one or two newcomers in.”