KEEPING a clean sheet and running a half marathon?

It’s all in a weekend’s work for Bradford (Park Avenue) skipper Luca Havern.

The centre half had to be at his best to help keep out a dominant Gloucester City in a 0-0 draw in the National League North last Saturday, before running over 13 miles in Manchester the following day to raise money for Melanoma UK, having being diagnosed himself with stage 1 melanoma (skin cancer) last year.

Thankfully, Havern has since got the all clear, and his manager Mark Bower knows how lucky he is to have him.

The Avenue boss said: “Luca is highly valued at the club. He’s our captain and his experience is vital.

“Centre halves and goalkeepers pride themselves on clean sheets and I think ours have been unfortunate not to pick up more than they have this season.

“Luca’s a big part of that defence and he’s had a few chances going forward too. We need to be a threat from set pieces and I know he’s itching to score a goal.

“After the Gloucester game, he ran that half marathon in a really good time, so he’s probably in need of a breather this weekend.”

Avenue are free tomorrow, as scheduled opponents Gateshead are in FA Cup action instead.

Discussing the break, Bower said: “You will get a few here and there, with games called off due to the weather or cup commitments.

“But then you’ll have times when you’re playing Saturday and midweek, then Saturday and midweek again.

“It’s been all about adapting this week, and mixing training sessions with rest and recovery for the players.

“It gives us the chance to get the likes of Brad Dockerty, Adam Nowakowski and Simon Richman up to speed, after time on the sidelines, as they’ll be needed for when we play next Saturday at Kidderminster, and then at home to Blyth on the Monday.”

Speaking of Richman, Bower was delighted to sign the experienced central midfielder last week, after he departed Altrincham in the summer after a decade there.

The Avenue boss said: “He’s come for the right reasons, in that he just wants to play football again.

“He played with (Avenue assistant manager) Danny Boshell at Altrincham, and he also knows Luca and Nicky Clee from their time there, so that helped with bringing him in too.

“He made a really good start at Gloucester on Saturday, given he hadn’t played for a few months, and he lasted 85 minutes, which was a lot longer than we expected.”

Technically, Avenue are not completely free until Kidderminster, as they visit Campion in the West Riding County Cup next Tuesday.

It could be a chance to get the likes of Richman some match practice, while Bower hopes to ease Matty Downing and Lucas Odunston back into action there after their respective injuries.

Ryan Toulson limped off with a tight Achilles at Gloucester, so Bower says that will need further assessment, while he confirmed that Avenue are just waiting on answers over a couple of potential new signings.