HUCKNALL Town boss Jason Truscott took heart from the progress being made at Watnall Road this week, and reiterated his desire to save the Yellows from relegation.
A difficult few weeks on and off the pitch has seen Hucknall fall to several heavy defeats as the club comes to terms with having to revert to amateur status.
But as Truscott continues to assess the kind of quality he’ll require to achieve safety by the end of the season, he feels things are gradually falling into place.
He said: “It’s a very, very slow process, but we’re getting there in terms of building a squad and being able to compete more in matches.
“We’ve targeted the Sheffield game on January 19 as being a marker when it comes to being where we want to be in terms of squad members and fitness, and so far things are looking quite bright in that sense.”
Having only been able to field eight players in the 13-0 defeat at Loughborough Dynamo on New Year’s Day, the Yellows had a full squad of 16 available for the visit of Brigg Town last Saturday, having held open training sessions in the days leading up to the match.
And, despite another heavy defeat to Brigg, this time 6-1, Truscott was enthused by the relative riches at his disposal compared to New Year’s Day.
He said: “The open sessions were really well attended and it meant we were able to get a full squad together for Saturday.
“The main problems then revolved around everyone being fit enough, and also whether there was going to be the quality there to compete.
“Such is the way things have happened, the quality in the squad is probably still lacking and that’s something we’ve aimed to address this week, as well as working hard to get everyone much fitter and able to compete for 90 minutes.
“With that in mind we’re hoping to bring in a few more by the weekend. We can only apologise to the fans that the quality hasn’t been there in recent games, but the circumstances have dictated that we’ve had to work with whatever we could muster.”
Truscott expressed his gratitude to those clubs and players who have been able to help the troubled Yellows, with players being ‘donated’ by the likes of Mansfield and Glapwell and with the Yellows boss using his contacts book wisely too.
He said: “Mansfield and Glapwell have been really helpful, and I’ve also been very fortunate to have a goalkeeper of Alex Malong’s quality to call on too.
“He is more than capable of playing at a much higher level, but he has assured me that he wants to play for me, and wherever I go, he goes.
“That is a great bonus because without his quality we may have lost the recent games by even bigger margins.
“We were even going to try to put him on some kind of contract at one point to try to keep him, but he says that regardless of whether a higher level club comes in or not, he wants to stay.
“I’m also trying to get him over to Mansfield Town one day a week in order for him to train with the Stags’ keepers as that will do him the world of good.”
Hucknall will now look ahead to a trip to Chasetown on Saturday as they continue to battle at the bottom of the league.
The West Midlands side are 16th in the table and drew 4-4 at Sutton Coldfield Town last weekend - throwing away a 4-2 lead in injury-time.
And Truscott says that, while securing points at this stage may still be a big ask, progression is still the key.
“When you look at it, we went from a 13-0 defeat to a 6-1 loss and scored a goal so that’s progression in itself,” he added.
“But the aim will be the same this weekend in that we need to get bodies behind the ball and work for each other - if we can’t do that then it’s something we need to address fast.
“I feel we’ve got the defenders here now to dig in and frustrate teams and that’s what we have to do.”
Truscott also expressed his desire once again to keep Hucknall up, with relegation, even in the current circumstances, seen as being a huge backward step.
He said: “There would be no financial benefit to going down because there’s more travelling to be done at NCEL level as well as other costs.
“We’ve got to aim at staying up and there are lots of points to play for. It’s important we don’t get cut too far adrift too soon, but if we can make a fight of it and stay up then it will show everyone what can be achieved, even with virtually no budget.”