Joe Ironside to have fitness test ahead of Cambridge United’s home game with Crewe Alexandra in Sky Bet League One
Joe Ironside may be one of a number of Cambridge United players given a fitness test ahead of the clash with Crewe Alexandra at the Abbey on Saturday (January 22).
The striker suffered a knock to the ankle in the 3-1 win over Doncaster Rovers on Tuesday night, and a number of other players picked up bumps and bruises as they felt the effect of an unrelenting fixture schedule.
But there is hope that Wes Hoolahan, who required emergency dental work, and George Williams, who was out through illness, will be able to return to the squad for the League One match.
“He’s got everything strapped up at the minute!” United head coach Mark Bonner joked of Ironside.
“We will see how he is this morning. We won’t know this morning until he’s in as to how he looks.
“There are one or two that are just getting weary really. There are quite a few games in a short period of time, and add a couple of weeks of no games that sort of came off the back of a really intense period and now we’re back into a really intense period.
“I don’t think you can underestimate the toll that the games against Newcastle, Portsmouth and Lincoln really took on the players, and that showed a little bit on Tuesday night.
“We hope that the ones that are a little bit bruised can recover. We got a few knocks the other night so we’ve just got to patch a few up and see how they are.
“We hope that Wes is OK. We hope that George Williams is OK - we’re hoping to see him today so hopefully we’ve got one or two to come back into it as well.”
The game is likely to come too soon for Jensen Weir, who is making a recovery from a knee injury suffered in training but United have also taken precautionary action with the midfielder.
“We’re getting that scanned just to check on that,” said Bonner.
“We’re hopeful that is quite good as he’s made good progress in the last couple of days, but we just want peace of mind on that.
“I wouldn’t have thought he would be about this weekend, but we will see how that settles over the next few days.”
If Ironside is ruled out and could face a longer spell on the sidelines, given the nature of his style, it has raised the question among supporters as to whether United would need to bolster their options during the transfer window.
Sam Smith, who has 11 goals this season, is a different type of player through the middle and has operated a lot off the right flank.
“Sam has played as a striker against Doncaster and he played there against Portsmouth. It’s a different kind of solo striker, but he has done a really good job there," said Bonner.
“That is something we will look at if Joey is ever out.
“Certainly, we’re not against looking at other options but Joe is quite unique. There are not many like him. To find players like that is quite a challenge, and very often those players are most effective and at their best when they are a bit more experienced so to find those players at a younger age is quite a challenge.
“But we’re always looking for those and if something crops up that can make us stronger and better, and deepen the squad in the last 10 days of the window then we will look to do it but we’re not flapping.”
He added: “I’m not a manager in the sweet shop excited that it’s January. We know we’ve got a few players that are getting close [to returning to full fitness], we know the squad is going to get stretched over the next month and we know we will potentially add something.
“We’re in no rush. We will see what comes up in the next couple of weeks and if something is there to make us better and stronger, then we will do it.”