Shaymen could welcome back injured trio for Chesterfield clash on Saturday

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Town boss Chris Millington could welcome back three players from his injury list for Saturday's home game against Chesterfield.

Defenders Jesse Debrah and Tom Clarke and winger Jordan Slew could all be available for the match.

Debrah has missed Town's last five games due to tonsillitis, Clarke has been struggling with an Achilles injury and Slew hasn't featured since the 2-1 win against Oldham in October because of a hamstring problem.

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On Debrah's availability, Millington said: "He's back in full training, doing extra running.

Chris Millington. Photo: Marcus BranstonChris Millington. Photo: Marcus Branston
Chris Millington. Photo: Marcus Branston

"The calf issue he had before the illness has cleared up.

"His illness has cleared up and now he's just getting back to full fitness in terms of blowing off those cobwebs."

On captain Clarke, the Town boss said: "He's back in full training as well, he's trained really well the last couple of days, so I'd expect him to be available for selection on Saturday."

And on Slew, Millington said: "He's back in full training and the range of movement that was slightly restricted seems to be back to full range, so we're hoping he'll be available for selection."

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However, Saturday is expected to come too soon for attacking midfielder Milli Alli to recover from his illness.

"He's still ill, but we'll see where he's at later in the week," Millington said.

"It might be a bit unrealistic to expect him to be back and available for Saturday."

Forward Osayamen Osawe could be in contention, according to Millington.

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"I think he'll probably be available for selection on Saturday, but I'd also say there are players who are slightly ahead of him in terms of their match sharpness and match fitness, so he may not be included," said the Town boss.

"I'm hoping that over a busy next few weeks, that we'll have a fully fit and fully available squad given where we're at at the moment."

Osawe has only played three times for the club since joining them at the end of August, only playing around 90 minutes of football across his three appearances.

"I'm hopeful that we get an opportunity to see his ability at The Shay because I think he's got a level of ability that will cause opposition teams significant problems," Millington said.

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"The issues we've had with Yamen have been niggling injuries and in more recent weeks we've had illness.

"It's been one of those unfortunate run of events that nobody wants to see, and it's frustrating for all parties.

"I'm hopeful, there's no guarantees, but my energy is spent in the most part on those who are around the matchday squad.

"Rightly or wrongly, they're the people who I believe require the most assistance at any given time.

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"My energy and focus is mostly spent on those players who are going to be involved and working hard to get us a victory in the upcoming match."

When asked if he believes Osawe can still make an impact at the club, Millington said: "If we get Yamen fit and available, he's going to have a real positive impact on performances.

"Clearly so far this season we haven't managed to do that, but that is the aim, that is our objective.

"If we can get him fit and playing then he's going to help us improve as a team.

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"At the moment, that's our focus, that's what we're trying to do with Yamen.

"In the meantime, what we do as a staff and what I'd ask the fans to do is really focus their energies and their support on the players who are available, who are fit and who are contributing on a weekly basis, rather than worrying too much about players who can't contribute at the moment."

Forward Matty Warburton hasn't started since the 1-0 defeat at Eastleigh in September due to injury, and has come off the bench in the last five games.

On what he feels Warburton has to do to get back in the team, Warburton said: "It's highly frustrating for Warby.

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"He picked up his initial injury literally the day before we were due to play Barnet, so that interfered with the start of the season for him.

"He had a brief spell where he came back and played through an injury at Eastleigh, which ultimately undermined his ability to get back as quickly as he'd want and we'd want him to.

"He's training well, he's working really hard. He's desperate to get back in the side and get a run of games under his belt, and more importantly, he's desperate to score goals because that's the key reason he's at the club, he's a goalscorer and he weighs in with a good number of goals per season.

"He's desperate to be involved and he will be, there's no doubt about it.

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"We've got some good options in that area of the pitch, Kian's done well, Jamie Cooke's done well, we've had Harvey Gilmour in there, Angelo Capello can affect that area of the pitch well.

"But Matty Warburton is an experienced pro who, when het gets his run of games, will no doubt influence the performances."

Saturday's opponents Chesterfield are third in the table, three points off top spot with a game in hand, and have won their last six matches in all competitions.

"There are clearly three real frontrunners this season in the league, and they're the big games that stand out as giving you a test of where you can potentially go in the league," Millington said.

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"Bar the result, we stood up to the test of Wrexham away reasonably well, we weren't good enough against Notts County at home, at a stage of the season where we were still finding out feet and working out some key things about our squad.

"But it's our first opportunity to play one of those big three at home, so it gives us a real gauge of 'can we be as good as we think we can be?' and can we really compete with those big-hitters in the division this season."

Halifax finished above Chesterfield in the league last season but were knocked out of the play-offs by The Spireites, who are 15 points above them in the table going into Saturday's match.

"We've been on a different trajectory to Chesterfield, their season was quite turbulent last season," Millington said.

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"Paul Cook came in at a difficult time and probably inherited the squad at a difficult time because, although they were in a good place in the league last season, there was a lot of challenge underneath that that people won't necessarily be aware of.

"They had a difficult time last year, they've then started this season maybe stepping into Stockport's shoes a bit in that they've recruited some very strong players with league pedigree, they have a manager in charge who's been able to structure things and put things in place to reflect his own approach and they're starting to perform in a similar way to how Stockport performed under Dave Challinor.

"They're probably this season's version of Stockport in my mind."

Town's last attempted home game, against Dorking, was postponed last Tuesday due to a waterlogged pitch.

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But Millington is hopeful the Chesterfield game won't be similarly affected.

"The weather at the moment is OK so we're not expecting too many issues from the pitch this week, but clearly we'll see how it stands up to the upcoming home games, which is the real test of where it's at," he said.

The Shaymen will face Albion Sports in the West Riding County Cup at Brighouse Town on Wednesday next week, but Millington is undecided as yet about how many members of his first-team squad will be involved.

"We're going to make a decision on that after Saturday because we're just off the back of a run where we were struggling to name a full bench, so we don't want to put ourselves at too great a risk too quickly because we've got a busy schedule coming up," said the Town boss.

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