It seems to be one step forward and one step back for Bradford Park Avenue boss John Deacey in his attempts to strengthen his squad ahead of the busy Christmas period.

After signing two more players to add to the capture of Simon Garner, the Horsfall club received a massive setback when the influential Martin Drury picked up a serious knee injury.

The left back, a dead-ball specialist, was carried off just before half-time in the 4-1 Blue Square Bet North win at second-bottom Histon last weekend.

Deacey said: “Dru is a big loss to us – and not just because he is a big player. He is also a big character around the dressing room and in training. He has been on fire this season and his boots will take some filling.

“It was obviously a bad injury because he just collapsed on the pith with no-one near him, so it’s a big blow to us and for the lad himself. He had an operation on Wednesday but he will still be out for six weeks.”

The haste in which Drury went under the surgeon’s knife looks set to prevent him from missing the remainder of the season.

Deacey was delighted by that but not shocked by the player digging into his own pocket to fund what he hopes will be a speedy return.

“The kid has shown fantastic dedication to the club because he paid to go private to get back as quick as possible,” said the Avenue manager.

“That has not surprised me one little bit because he is like that. He hates being injured. In fact, he hates being on the sidelines for any reason because he loves his football – but he also loves the club and he wants us to be up there.”

Drury’s absence from the squad was counter-balanced slightly as Deacey re-signed Jamie Price. That was a fourth recent recruitment but only Price and Tom Corner are permanent as Garner and Scunthorpe United youngster Callum Howe are short-term loan signings.

Garner’s one-month deal is up after tomorrow and he could be heading back to Garry Flitcroft’s Chorley. But the cavalry is coming to Avenue’s rescue in the shape of Ross Daly, Jamie Jackson and Adam Clayton.

Midfielder Daly has been gaining fitness at former club Thackley and Jackson at Worksop Town, both on one-month loan deals, while the versatile Clayton is battling back from injury.

Deacey said: “Ross is getting in valuable game time at Thackley and doing well. Adam is jogging now after his operation but he has not played for eight or nine weeks, so he has work to do.

“It is difficult for the lads coming back because we don’t have a reserve side, so they have got to come straight back in at Conference level. We will still have three very good players back before the hectic Christmas period though.”