Ryman League preview: Wealdstone struggling ahead of big kick-off

PUBLISHED: 07:00 08 August 2013

Wealdstone manager Gordon Bartlett

Wealdstone manager Gordon Bartlett

Copyright - © Steve Foster/Wealdstone FC 2012. You do NOT have permission to use this image unless it is properly accredited.

Wealdstone manager Gordon Bartlett admits that a serious knee injury to striker Lewis Putman has handed a blow to their promotion prospects.

Bartlett signed prolific goal-scorer Putman from Spartan League side Oxhey Jets in June, after the 22-year-old forward netted 81 times in all competitions last season.

However, just two games into his Stones career, Putnam twisted his knee in a pre-season friendly against Hayes & Yeading United, tearing his medial ligaments, and will be out of action for at least the first three months of the season.

And ahead of Wealdstone’s first game of the season in the Premier Division against Maidstone, Bartlett says the striker’s injury has damaged his team’s prospects.

“We know he’ll be out for months, but we’re not sure exactly how long,” said Bartlett. “It’s a bit more complicated than we thought.

“He had a similar problem when he was at Oxhey and this has made it flare up again. It’s disappointing for him and for us.”

Putman was signed as a replacement for Richard Jolly, the veteran striker who retired at the end of last season, but his injury is just one of a host of problems for Bartlett, who wants promotion after two consecutive seasons of play-off heartbreak.

Six players left the club following their play-off semi-final defeat to Concord Rangers, including defender Lee Chappell, who made more than 350 appearances for the club since 2005, and midfielder Chris O’Leary.

And Bartlett said that qualification for the play-offs for a third consecutive season is far from certain as he looks to knit together a team of new players.

He said: “It has been an enormous turnaround in playing staff, and it has been difficult because normally you’re in charge of these things, but on this occasion all six left of their own accord.

“We’re probably not quite ready yet, it will take some time for the players to get to know each other.

“Can we make the play-offs again? I’d love to, but for the time being let’s concentrate on the first month of the season and get points on the board.”

Hendon begin their campaign with a trip to newly-promoted Thamesmead Town on Saturday, before hosting Dulwich Hamlet on Monday night, in their first competitive match at Earlsmead, which they will share with Harrow Borough this season.

Borough, meanwhile, begin their campaign with a home clash against Billericay Town, before a trip to Bury Town. They play rivals Wealdstone at Earlsmead on Saturday, August 24.

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