It's not all fair in love and football for Ciren players
THE flu is one thing but there's no time for lovesickness at Cirencester Town, believes boss Brian Hughes.
Valiant Sam Packer hauled his shivering body onto the bench for Tuesday night's 1-0 Corinium Stadium victory over Mangotsfield Town.
The flu-suffering striker left his sickbed to plug a gap for the injury-hit Centurions, bringing praise from his manager Hughes.
Cirencester host Sholing on Saturday (kick-off 3pm) keen to register their second-straight win in Evo-Stik League Southern Division One South and West.
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Hughes said his 'nobbled' side are currently battling an injury glut – but conceded that is simply part of life at the level.
Ellis Dunton's free-kick strike won Tuesday's tie, with Hughes once again encouraged by Cirencester's solidity.
Calling for more of the same with an extra sprinkling of creativity tomorrow, Hughes has warned his players to shrug off any Valentine's Day hangover.
He explained: "We had three subs on Tuesday, Sam was one of them and he had flu – we had to make one substitution on two minutes, a second within 30 minutes.
"And then Sam couldn't come on anyway because of his illness.
"I'm sure all the managers at our level have the same problems all the time.
"So we're not complaining, but there it is.
"The one thing you can't have is a squad, because people just want to play, and fair enough.
"Sam was poorly on Tuesday but I told him not to have Valentine's flu at training on Thursday.
"In fact I told all the players that – a few of them were trying it on, that's for sure.
"They were asking if they could have the night off – shocking really, they could easily have made plans for Wednesday or tonight.
"Sam was really poorly on Tuesday. It was great of him to turn out, because he was really struggling.
"After the game he got straight in his car and drove home – no shower, no nothing, he was feeling that rough.
"With ten minutes left I asked if he was all right to go on but he wasn't in any fit state, bless him.
"That's the comical side of doing the job at this level – well, it's funny when you win!"
Hughes will definitely be without calf-injury victim Joe Shepherd tomorrow, with Jamie Reid starting his three-match suspension after picking his fourth red card for the season.
Ben Wells is battling to get over a nasty ankle gash, while Leigh Henry and Chris Thompson are also fighting for fitness.
Keen to build for the future, Hughes wants to retain the spine of the side he has amassed this season – and aim to add some game-changers for next term.
Ex-Welsh international goalkeeper Glyn Garner and defenders Henry and Shayne Anson have added rearguard steel – and Hughes will seek some gold dust in the long-term.
He added: "We've been very solid recently and that's fantastic.
"Often you tend to start from scratch season on season building a team.
"But hopefully we can hang onto the spine of this side, and add some extra quality when the chance arises."