FOOTBALL: New boy Ryan aims to fire play-off push

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STAMFORD have recruited former Nottingham Forest youngster Ryan Whitehurst to re-ignite their push for the play-offs.

Tommy Brookbanks moved for the striker after the Daniels picked just one point from six this week, losing to promotion rivals Leek Town on Tuesday, drawing with Belper Town on Saturday, and picking up a raft on injuries along the way.

Brookbanks was sent from the dugouts after telling Tuesday’s referee what he thought of a challenge that left winger Mathieu Isamene writhing in agony on the touchline.

“It was a disgusting challenge. One of the worst I have seen,” said Brookbanks of the lunge that injured Isamene just below the knee.

“It was out of the blue but if you go in like that you can really hurt somebody – but the ref just gave a throw while Matthieu is on the ground in agony.

“We are getting no protection and it enraged me at the time because I remember going through it myself as a player.

“People forget we are not full-time footballers. Matt Baxter (injured against Belper) could not work this week because of the injury he picked up.

“To be fair to Leek, they were so disgusted that their management brought their guy straight off and the player apologised afterwards.”

And it was the rough stuff from Belper that caused most damage to Brookbanks’ squad

Speaking on Wednesday, the Stamford manager said Isamene, Baxter and Keiran Watson are definitely ruled out of tomorrow’s game at Goole, while Joe Pheasant and David Staff remained doubtful.

Fears that Nathan Watson, who limped off against Belper, and Bruno Holden, who was hit in the face in the same game, would also be absent through injury have proved overly cautious with both back in Tuesday’s squad.

However, the injuries and sudden goal drought have prompted Brookbanks to sign up 20-year-old Whitehurst from Arnold.

Released by Forest in 2009, Whitehurst has played for Blue Square North side Eastwood as well as Arnold, and Brookbanks says the 22-year-old is returning to his best.

“He was Forest’s record goalscorer as a youngster and has been banging goals in at Arnold.”

Stamford, who travel to Goole tomorrow and Sheffield on Tuesday, remain fifth but are now just one point ahead of Leek who have one game in hand.

But Brookbanks remains upbeat about the likelihood of his side making the Evo-Stik First Division South play-offs.

He said: “We have played good football and we are still fifth. I would be worried if we were out of form but we are playing well. A win will turn it around.”