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Sheppey United boss Ernie Batten handed further defensive headache after ankle injury for full-back Dan Birch

Sheppey United’s impressive form is under threat by a catalogue of defensive injuries.

The Ites were missing two centre-halves for last weekend’s 2-0 home win against Fisher, and then lost defender Dan Birch to injury at the end of that game.

Sheppey boss Ernie Batten Picture: Andy Jones
Sheppey boss Ernie Batten Picture: Andy Jones

Birch had moved from his regular right-back spot to fill the void left by injured pair George Crimmen and Danny Rumbol, but looks set to be sidelined long-term after ending up in hospital with an ankle injury.

Boss Ernie Batten said: “Dan was outstanding on Saturday but he got a nasty ankle injury after getting caught by a tackle and ended up in hospital.

“It’s a major blow to us and really frustrating. One thing that has haunted me as manager has been getting a settled defence, whether that’s a goalkeeper or a back four, and now we’ve had three injuries in seven days.”

It’s come at the wrong time for Sheppey, too, as they face a game this weekend that Batten has described as “massive”.

Sheppey are taking two coaches of supporters to Tunbridge Wells and will be looking to maintain their impressive form.

During November the Ites won all five of their games, scoring 25 goals.

But, like the Ites, Wells have aspirations of winning promotion from the Southern Counties East, and are in form too. They are two points behind Batten’s men, with two games in hand.

“It’s a big game against Tunbridge Wells and I’ll be seeing if we can get a defender in on a dual registration to help us out,” said Batten.

“Hopefully we can cope with it defensively and our forwards can have a good day.”

Fortunately for Batten he does at least have a new right-back in the squad, with Chris Edwards returning to the fold.

He left last season and re-joins after starting the current campaign with Glebe.

Crimmen is missing with a knee injury which, although not serious, is expected to keep him sidelined for the weekend. Rumbol has a calf injury and pulled out of the warm-up before the Fisher game.

Batten added: “If we are serious about having a chance this season then we need to beat those teams around us, that’s what it comes down to.

“If we can get a result then it does set us up nicely.

“Tunbridge Wells will be mega up for it. They beat us first game of the season, they are on a good run and beat Chatham last time at home. They will think they can beat us.”

Sheppey lost 4-0 at Bearsted in Tuesday's Challenge Cup fixture. The game was played at the third attempt, having twice been called off due to a waterlogged pitch.

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