BRADFORD (Park Avenue) boss Mark Bower has admitted rotation will be key this bank holiday weekend for his side, but it remains to be seen whether any academy talents get the nod.

Sixteenth-placed Avenue are officially safe in National League North now, despite a 3-2 defeat at Hereford last time out, so can try a few things, but Bower wants to be careful ahead of tomorrow's game at home to Darlington and the visit to Chester on Monday.

He said: "We'll need to rotate, because we've picked up a few injuries in the last few weeks, which has just exposed our small squad.

"There might be one or two lads out of position, but we want the strongest side possible to give us a chance of getting results, as having those back-to-back games on a bank holiday weekend can really push you up or down the table.

"We've had a couple of young lads train with us over the season, but we've also got players in and around the main squad who need game time too.

"We want there to be a purpose to playing any young lads, not just doing it for the sake of it, so we'll see how it goes."

Just a point separates Gloucester in 15th and Chester in 18th, and Bower said: "We mentioned after the Hereford game that we wanted to finish top of that bunch of four.

"We want to finish as high as we can, and coming top of that little group is realistically the best we can achieve now.

"We have a good chance, with two home games left and a good away trip to Chester, who are in that group.

"Often as well, you'll find if you finish a season well, that momentum can go on into the following season.

"We don't want to just drift to the end now, and we also want to reward our supporters for their backing all season."

As Bower mentioned, Avenue are at Chester on bank holiday Monday, with the perennial promotion contenders struggling this season.

Bower said: "They've still got really good players, so it underlines the strength of the league.

"I've said whoever finishes bottom this season will be the best ever to go down from the division.

"You can get teams you don't expect down there, and there's a case for most to be in the play-offs.

"With Chester, they've had that change in the season, but Steve Watson is there now and he's a really good manager, who'll be looking to put his own stamp on them next season."

First, Avenue host Darlington on Saturday, a team they have a good record on the road against, but one they haven't played at home since 2018 due to Covid.

On them, Bower said: "It's a good fixture, but they've had three defeats in a row that have ended their play-off hopes.

"It's a shame because they might have brought a better following if they were still in the mix, but I'm sure they'll still travel down in numbers.

"It says a lot again about the quality of the league that they won't be in that top seven.

"It'll be a tough test for us, and they'll be playing with the pressure off now."

Simon Richman, Sam Fielding and Jake Hibbs are all set to miss this weekend with injury, while Brad Dockerty and Mitch Lund face late fitness tests after picking up knocks at Hereford.