CALVIN Zola and Damien McCrory face a race against time to be fit for Burton Albion’s clash with League Two basement boys AFC Wimbledon today.
The duo face 11th hour fitness tests on knocks they picked up this week and are rated as doubtful by Brewers boss Gary Rowett.
“We’ll take it down to the wire with Calv and Damien,” Rowett said last night. “They’re both still doubtful to play.”
Nathan Stanton, meanwhile, has been ruled out of the trip to South London with a knock he picked up on his knee.
Left-back McCrory is battling an ankle problem, while top scorer Zola has been carrying a nagging hip injury.
Should Zola be ruled out today, it will probably mean a debut for new signing Michael Symes as Albion look to build on their excellent 1-1 draw at Oxford on Tuesday night.
The 29-year-old striker joined the Brewers on loan for the rest of the season from Leyton Orient on deadline day, along with Burnley winger Alex MacDonald.
“We’re starting to get a real squad together,” said Rowett. “The players can sense that.
“The players who’ve come in are good players and there’s more and more depth in the squad.
“If you look at the players out of the team they would get in many other sides in League Two.
“Now the job is trying to keep everybody happy.
“I don’t want to see people happy at not getting a game — but we’re getting that depth we need.”
The new signings have certainly given a greater depth to the Albion squad and are another step in Rowett’s reshaping of the club’s playing staff.
“I said in the summer when I got the job that what I wanted to do was build a squad that could continually keep improving,” said the Albion boss.
“That what we’re starting to see.”
While Burton visit Wimbledon sat in the automatic promotion places, Rowett is not getting complacent or thinking the job is already done.
“We’re not getting above our station,” he said. “We’re not thinking that just because we’re third we can start playing differently against sides at the top, middle and bottom of the table.
“We’re not good enough to do that.
“Only a couple of results could see us go down to about 10th.
“We’re just focusing on performances and are looking to keep improving our away form.
“Let’s see where we are in six games’ time.”
Wimbledon, meanwhile, have shown real signs of improvement in recent weeks, winning away at Torquay and Rochdale before drawing at home to Wycombe Wanderers and Port Vale.
Rowett thinks the Dons will provide a very stiff test of his side this afternoon, kick-off 3pm — and will be a different proposition to the outfit which sank 6-2 at the Pirelli Stadium in August.
“They’ve got some good results,” he said. “Gary Alexander is a terrific signing for them.
“They’ll be a lot stronger than when we played them earlier in the season.”
JUSTIN Richards has had his contract at the Brewers cancelled by mutual consent.
The 32-year-old striker made 52 appearances for Albion, scoring 13 goals, following his arrival in July, 2011.
He has been on loan Oxford United and is expected to make a permanent move to the Kassam Stadium.