BLUES boss Carl Garner is expecting to see fight and desire from his players over the coming fixtures.
Clitheroe have won just once in their previous five outings – a 3-1 victory over Harrogate Railway Athletic at Shawbridge – which has seen their position in First Division North suffer.
And their next couple of encounters don’t get any easier. The Blues travel to Ingfield to face Ossett Town on Saturday, before heading out on the road again to play title-chasing Curzon Ashton at the Tameside Stadium on Monday evening.
The double-header comes after the weekend’s home game against Woodley Sports was called off, due to a frozen Shawbridge pitch.
“It’s going to be a big test for us now,” said Garner. “We’ve got two tough away games in the space of 48 hours. Ossett Town are a very experienced side, and Curzon Ashton have led the table all season long.
“I just want to see a dogged performance, and we’ll be looking to muscle up for the games. We are confident, but we’ve got 13 games remaining and we’ve got to look to get as many points on the board as possible.”
Garner is set to ring the changes from the starting XI that earned a 3-3 draw away at Wakefield at the end of January. At least five changes are expected to be made, though Garner admits any decisions made will be tough, following the hard work and commitment he’s witnessed of his squad in training.
“The lads have been working really hard,” he said.
“Everyone is free of injury and suspension, so they’ve trained really well and are ready to go. All the lads have done well, so I’ve got some big decisions to make. But I’ll be making a minimum of five or six changes, because we need a fresh impetus.”
One man he hopes to include for the journey to West Yorkshire is Duncan Watmore, who had featured for the Blues in the stalemate at home to Mossley.
Watmore had been recalled by Altrincham boss Lee Sinnott, but a deal has been struck between the two clubs for the striker to return to the Ribble Valley.
“I’m negotiating a deal to bring Duncan back from Altrincham on a month-long loan,” said Garner. “He had been with us for a short time but was recalled.
“However, they’ve since made four or five signings so he’s in a position to return for us.”
Meanwhile, Garner says the recent open forum held in Lordy’s Bar was a big success. He said: “It went well. I tried to answer everything honestly, and it seemed to be received very well. Some people were surprised by the differentials being paid in our league, but it was just a case of being honest with people.”
He added: “There had been some nastiness on the forum. I don’t think any of our own supporters were involved, it was outsiders trying to disrupt things, so it was important to clear things up. I think most people got something from it. Hopefully, it’s something we’ll do again in the future.”