Crawley Town boss Dean Saunders admitted rushing defender Dean Leacock back from injury as a result of Darren Ward suffering a season-ending one has backfired.
Ward did not feature for Reds in their 0-0 draw at Crewe after picking up a heel injury which means he will not play again for Saunders’ side this season.
As a result, Leacock made his first start since Boxing Day at Gresty Road, but lasted just 20 minutes before limping off.
It’s not quite a crisis for Reds, however, as they still have four fit defenders as well as Lewis Young, who has been a regular deputy at full-back in recent weeks.
One plus is that former Charlton defender Kelly Youga’s work clearance has come through, although he is some way off from match fitness.
Saunders said: “We took a risk with Dean (Leacock), Darren Ward is out for the season, he’s got a bad injury under his foot.
“He’s for a floating bone where your Tibia and Fibula joint goes into the foot and in that surface there, he has got a floating bone which causes all sorts of problems.
“So he is out for the season and we had to take a chance with Dean Leacock as I felt it was such an important game that I didn’t want to swap the defence around after we had been doing so well.
“I was going to have to change everyone around which I had to anyway after 15 minutes. I was hoping Dean could go in, get through the game, get us the three points we needed and see how he was for Monday.
“The risk we took didn’t pay off and now we are really short.
“Kelly (Youga’s) work permit has come through so we have got another player we can add on.
“He’s not match fit, there are a few that haven’t played for a while but he is available.”