THE UNEXPECTED return of Babucar Sauane has helped ease Alvechurch’s injury worries on the eve of the new season.
After a trial with Blackpool – who look set to recruit former Church front-runner Yusifu Ceesay – Sauane has now committed himself to Ian Long’s men for a third season after two promotion-winning campaigns.
Sauane had been expected to head for pastures new, with Nuneaton Borough and Rushall Olympic among those interested, but Long is delighted to have him on board again, especially with fitness doubts over both Ryan Winwood and Kyle Morrison as the countdown to their debut campaign in the Southern Premier Central continues.
“It’s a massive boost to have Baba with us again,” said Long. “We’ve got good competition in the middle of the park but Baba can also play as a left-back. He gives us options.
“We’ve picked up a couple of worrying injuries in pre-season. Ryan rolled his ankle in training and has damaged his ligaments and Kyle hurt his knee in the first friendly against Malvern. He can’t kick a ball at the moment and he needs a couple of good sessions.
“At the moment they are touch and go for the start of the season.”
Alvechurch, who start the campaign at home to Royston Town on August 11, were chasing silverware last night (Thursday) when they faced Redditch United in the final of the Worcestershire Senior Cup before the friendly programme continues on Saturday with a planned double-header away to Highgate United (noon) and away to Hednesford Town (3pm).
On Tuesday, they renew their acquaintances with Ian Rowe’s Sporting Khalsa with a trip to the new-look Aspray Arena.
Long will shuffle his squad for the games, although the Gate match could yet depend on the state of the drought-hit pitch. He is pleased with how the players have responded so far, with a youthful side drawing 1-1 with Bromsgrove Sporting on Tuesday ahead of the clash with the Reds.
Calum Debar fired Alvechurch ahead before Jamie Clarke levelled, although both sides will have a very different composition when they meet in a mouthwatering FA Cup tie next month.
Nearly 700 fans watched the game at Lye Meadow and Long hopes more and more supporters will back their endeavours, particularly when they face so many more established Step Three clubs.
“Everyone at the club has got to be realistic about the season ahead,” said Long. “We’ve had a great time in the past two or three seasons but now we are up against some big clubs, with big budgets and big money being paid out.
“It’s a new challenge and we need the fans to stick with us. More people coming through the gate makes a big difference. It’s going to be a season of consolidation after winning two promotions but the aim is to keep moving forward, on the pitch and off it.”