RUGBY TOWN: Belcher injury blow to prospects

Sam Belcher
Sam Belcher
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Revised pre-season schedule announced

Rugby Town’s prospects for the forthcoming season took a hit with the news that influential midfielder Sam Belcher looks likely to be out for a significant portion of the forthcoming Southern League campaign.

Belcher missed the final five matches of what ultimately turned out to be an unsuccessful promotion bid for Valley in 2012/13 after suffering a knee injury in the victory at eventual Central Division champions Burnham, and following a recent scan of the area it appears that boss Dave Stringer’s worst fears have been realised.

Stringer explained: “It’s 90% certain that Sam has badly damaged his anterior cruciate ligament, which could mean around six to eight months out for him.

“That’s a real blow for us, as he was so instrumental in our successes last season and you could see how much we missed him in the play-off games at the end.”

Belcher signed for the club last November from Bedworth, after a previous successful spell in the Conference North at Hinckley, and he scored six times in twenty three starts for Rugby.

There is better news for Stringer though with regards to another injury victim full-back Craig Kelly.

Kelly sat out the final three months of the campaign with a groin problem, but the Town manager is hoping he will be back for the start of pre-season training a week Saturday.

He continued: “I’m very optimistic Craig will be ready to join us on the 22nd of June and play a full part in pre-season.”

Stringer confirmed that most of last season’s squad have committed to return after the summer break, with the exception of keeper Dave Bevan and possibly full-back Alex Austin.

He said: “I have worked hard over the last few weeks convincing the lads to stay at the club, and in the main they have agreed in principle to do so.

“We are at an advanced stage of bringing in a new keeper though, as Dave’s work commitments meant he was unable to commit to the levels that we were looking for next season.

“Alex is likely to be moving to Australia as part of his studies, so we will also have to do without him too.”

Stringer will also have a new assistant for the 2013/14 campaign, with Tony Clarke returning to the club to replace Valley stalwart Craig Herbert – who has stepped down due to work and family commitments. The remainder of the backroom team will remain unchanged.

# There have been three changes to the previously issued pre-season friendly fixture schedule, with a new home game now planned against Solihull Moors on the main pitch replacing the one on the astro facility against Sutton Coldfield on July 20th, in addition to a trip to neighbours Bedworth on August 10th and another Butlin Road astro game against Lutterworth on July 16th.

Latest friendly schedule:

Saturday 6th July: Alvis (H - astro)

Saturday 13th July: Long Buckby (A)

Tuesday 16th July: Lutterworth (H – astro)

Saturday 20th July: Solihull (H – main)

Friday 26th July: Leamington (H- main)

Tuesday 30th July: Brackley (H – main)

Saturday 3rd August: Stamford (H – main)

Saturday 10th August: Bedworth (A)