10:00AM, Saturday 24 July 2021
It's not been the smoothest of pre-seasons for Slough Town, who've seen their joint manager Jon Underwood forced to isolate after contracting COVID and midfielder Warren Harris suffer a potentially serious knee injury.
The extent of Harris' injury is not yet known, but joint manager Neil Baker said the player was experiencing some 'clicking in the knee joint' and admitted it 'didn’t look like a great one'.
He'll get a scan to determine the severity of the knock, but Baker expects he'll be out for a few weeks at least, an absence which may yet hand an opportunity to one of the Rebels' younger, less experienced, squad members.
Underwood, who said on Twitter he is feeling much better, is likely to return to the dug-out this week after missing the warm-up matches against Fulham u23s and Kings Langley this week.
Generally, Baker has been impressed by how the Rebels have responded to the setbacks in pre-season. The odd blip aside, most notably their 3-2 defeat to Binfield earlier this month, he says they've performed pretty well, holding Fulham's u23s to a 1-1 draw despite six players, and Underwood, missing the game through having to isolate.
They then turned in their best display of pre-season to comfortably beat Kings Langley 3-1 on Tuesday evening, Josh Jackman netting twice and Scott Davies adding the third from a free kick to complete a satisfying night's work. Next up they visit Farnborough on Saturday afternoon (1pm kick-off), before taking on Burnham on a newly laid 3G pitch at The Gore on Tuesday (7.30pm kick-off).
“The only game we were disappointed with was Binfield,” said Baker. “We were poor on the night and sloppy, but on the whole, we've been pretty pleased with pre-season so far.
“Unfortunately, it looks like we've picked up an injury with Warren Harris and we don't know the extent of that yet. But it doesn't look like a great one. In pre-season you ideally want to keep players fit and not lose anyone. For me that's a successful pre-season and if we lose Warren it won't be one.
“He's never injured. I think Warren's had one injury since we had him, when he did his ACL in his second season, but that was six years ago.
“Hopefully, it’s not a bad one. He's got some clicking in his knee and we'll have to get a scan and review where we are. Maybe he can be back playing in a few weeks.”
Even if Harris' injury rules him out for a longer period, Baker doesn’t necessarily anticipate they'll be forced to go out and sign a replacement.
He's confident in the younger, academy players who've come into the squad this summer and he and Underwood are ready to hand them an opportunity to impress.
“We've got 16 senior players and three that have come in from the academy and another (George Hunt) who we've signed from Bournemouth,” said Baker. “So, we're working with 20 players but four of those are relatively young. But we've been really impressed with them, and it gives us an opportunity to look at those guys and see if they're ready. We're hoping they will be and having the academy is definitely paying dividends.