Notts County manager Neal Ardley admits losing Sam Graham to injury is a ‘huge blow.’
The young defender ruptured his Achilles tendon in training this week, bringing his loan stay at Meadow Lane to a premature end.
And Ardley believes Graham leaves a big hole to fill, on and off the pitch.
“It’s a huge blow,” said the boss. “He’s played really well lately as the team and our shape’s evolved. Not only that, the lads and the staff love him – he’s a great lad who we were enjoying working with.
“It was a horrible moment. He went down in agony and we had to call training early. The Nottingham Trent University paramedics were fantastic but Sam was in that much pain he had to go on to morphine.
“It was a really serious one – not something you get used to no matter how long you’ve been in the game.”
It leaves Ardley with a defensive dilemma going into this weekend’s trip to high-flying Bromley, with Ben Turner’s involvement still up in the air after he hobbled off the field against Halifax last weekend.
“What we’ve tried to do is give Ben the whole week to recover,” said the boss. “Calves carry your whole bodyweight, so we’ve had to unload him to make sure when we do have a look at it we’ve given it all the time we can.
“It appears to be a minor issue – he can do most things but it's still tender in areas. It may just be a bit of muscle soreness, or it was possibly the first sign of cramp.
“If he comes through Friday then it could be all systems go. If there’s any doubt, we won’t be risking him.”
Ardley also revealed that Nathan Tyson, Shaun Shields and Dion Kelly-Evans are in the advanced stages of recovery from their respective injuries but that this weekend’s match may come ‘too soon.’
It is sure to be a tough test for the Magpies against a side sitting second in the league.
“They’re unbeaten for a reason – they’re doing a lot of things right,” said Ardley. "They’ve got some good players – they’re powerful with good strength and height.
“They play at a good tempo and cause you problems. They’re second-top scorers and we’re going to have to play really, really well.
“This is our last game where we’ll go and play on an artificial pitch. We got four points in the other two so we know we can handle the surface, but it’s a different test against a different team.”