Alex Pike is hopeful Josh Carmichael will recover to play a part in the remainder of Gosport Borough’s survival push.
The on-loan Bournemouth midfielder hobbled off with a knee injury in Tuesday’s 3-0 win over Hayes & Yeading and is a major doubt for tomorrow’s trip to Eastbourne Borough as Gosport bid to continue their impressive climb away from Skrill South relegation danger.
The 19-year-old has been a key part of Borough’s recent revival and Pike believes he has outshone all of the young players he has taken on loan from professional clubs in the past.
The Borough boss is also certain he will go on to forge a professional career.
Pike said: ‘Josh looks like he will be a doubt for the game tomorrow, which is a big loss for us.
‘I don’t think the injury is that bad – he just tweaked it when he landed awkwardly.
‘I’ve had a text from his physio at Bournemouth but I’m hoping it’s not that serious.
‘His loan was due to finish on April 12, and they have said there is no reason not to extend that to the end of the season.
‘That would suggest that he’s not going to be out injured for too long and that’s good news for everyone.
‘But he has done really well for us. If he doesn’t go on to make it as a professional footballer, I want to know why.
‘I’ve had more loan signings of young lads from pro clubs that don’t work out.
‘But he is by far the best we’ve had.
‘My barometer is often the players themselves. We played Bournemouth in the Hampshire Senior Cup and my players said he was the best player they had played against.
‘When he became available on loan, it was an easy decision to make because we’d already done our homework.
‘He is a very level-headed lad, he knows what he’s doing and he’s been excellent for us.’
Borough moved up to 16th place in the table in midweek and could earn themselves more breathing space with a victory at mid-table Eastbourne, who still maintain outside ambitions of a play-off place.
But just four points separate Pike’s side from the relegation zone – although they still have games in hand on all of the clubs below them.
And Pike is keen to stress that the survival objective has not yet been achieved.
He said: ‘We’ve seen some of the results in recent weeks and we have not got to where we need to get to yet.
‘We had a setback against Concord Rangers last weekend but we responded well in midweek and we need a similar performance at Eastbourne.’
Dan Woodward looks the most likely to replace the injured Carmichael, while Jamie Brown and Mike Gosney are also both pushing for recalls.
GOSPORT: Ashmore, Molyneaux, Pearce, Poate, Forbes, Woodward, Smith, Scott, Wooden, Bennett, Williams, Barfoot, Richardson, Brown, Wilde, Gosney, Sills