HAVING a big squad is usually a necessity when trying to cope with the rigours of a 42-game non-league season.

Bradford (Park Avenue) took that to the extreme last term, using 54 players in total, but let's leave that mass turnover in the past and look to the present.

Mark Bower has assembled a group of 22 who all seem ready when called upon. Jordan Windass, Ryan Toulson and Omar Sanyang are fine examples.

When it was announced early this week that Bradford's best defender in 2020 would be out for four months, there was no panic within the Horsfall ranks.

This showed in Tuesday night's 1-0 win at Darlington. Defender Mark Ross shifted over to the middle with Windass coming in at right back.

Luca Havern netted the winner, and Bower thinks his new enforced centre half duo have been brilliant since rejoining the club in the summer.

"Not just Luca’s goal but the experience he has with Rossy," he said.

"They talk to the young lads ahead of them and pull them about to make sure they are in the right positions. A lot of that work goes unseen. He is good mates with Rossy and they linked up really well to get the clean sheet.

"The lads have got to be patient for their chances. Opportunities will arise and they have got to be ready to take them and show us what they have got. Jordan has done that on occasions this season and likewise Omar."

Nevertheless, Mitch Lund's facial injury suffered in the 2-1 defeat to AFC Telford United, which required him to have an operation at the BRI, is still a blow.

"He was playing really well," Bower added.

"Whether their player meant it or not we felt through the game he was leading dangerously in aerial challenges so we notified the officials.

"Unfortunately, Lundy was not protected. I thought that injury could have been prevented.

"We not just lose a player for four months, but Lundy has to spend a period off work and that is really disappointing.

"He is a great lad and I am sure he will look after himself when he is off."

A trip up to Spennymoor Town is the ninth-placed team's next stop.

Last month, Jason Ainsley's men travelled to West Yorkshire and recorded a 3-1 victory in the second qualifying round of the Emirates FA Cup.

Bower is expecting a different test to what his team faced mid-week.

"They are a really strong team right up there in the mix.

"Darlington are probably more football based, Spennymoor have more of a mix.

"If we adopt the approach we did do on Tuesday when we took the lead, it might be a bit more difficult to do that at Spennymoor because they have got a bit more of a physical threat. They can swing a ball in your box and be dangerous from set pieces.

"We will have to have a think on how we are going to approach it."

Park Avenue have only lost once on the road in their 2020-21 Vanarama National League North campaign.

Bower reveals the secret behind his side's away success.

"We have forced teams to come out against us.

"People say we just park the bus but at Hereford we were straight out at them to take the lead, similar at Gloucester, and same at Darlington in the first 15 minutes.

"Going in front means teams have to come out and you can protect your lead a bit more.

"At home we have not taken those opportunities when they have come. Apart from Southport, most teams have come and had a go.

"I don’t think many teams give us the respect that we are going to outplay them. We just have to go about our business"