GRESLEY are sweating on the fitness of defensive enforcer Michael Nottingham ahead of tonight’s clash with former non-league giants Northwich Victoria.
The big defender is only rated as “50-50” by boss Gary Norton as he battles a dead leg.
In Nottingham’s absence, the Moatmen lost 5-3 at Evo-Stik NPL First Division South strugglers Kidsgrove Athletic on Saturday.
And Norton is keen to get the 6ft 3in centre-half back in the side at the Moat Ground tonight, kick-off 7.45pm.
“Michael Nottingham’s fitness is the burning question,” said the Gresley boss last night. “We missed his presence and pace on Saturday.
“We’ll know more ahead of the game but I’d probably only rate him at 50-50 — we hold out a bit of hope.”
Nottingham’s absence, along with that of fellow defenders Sam Woods, Matt Roome and Dan Douglas, was keenly felt in the defeat at Kidsgrove.
Rob Spencer had to play at right-back, with Adam Betteridge making his first appearance of the season at left-back and Jordi Gough moving into midfield.
Nottingham’s return would allow Jamie Barrett to return to the right-back slot.
The Moatmen start a run of three home games on the bounce tonight — and Norton is keen to put a string of wins together.
Gresley have only lost two at home all season — but have played just three times on their own patch since September.
“Northwich are a point and a place behind us in the table,” said the Moat boss. “It’s a big game against a huge name in non-league.
“Ten of our last 13 games have been away — it’s an incredible stat — and now we have a run of three at home. It’s ideal for us. We want to win and build up some pressure on the leading clubs.”
Gresley have the sixth worst defensive record in the league and Norton is looking for a rapid improvement.
“Despite that, we are pushing up into the play-off places,” he said. “But we can’t concede so many and stay up there.
“We’ve tried to play a bit more football in the last couple of years, but at this level it seems every mistake we make is getting punished.
“It might be time for us to shut up shop a bit more and hit balls down channels when we’re under pressure.”
Danny Holmes and Gareth Langford could be available tonight, while Royce Turville continues to come back from his knee injury. Matt Roome is unavailable.
GRESLEY FROM: Hateley, Barrett, Nottingham, Strzyzewski, Gough, Spencer, Jepson, Holmes, Goodfellow, Massingham, Nadat, Langford, Lyons, White, Hanslow, Turville, Minshull.