On duty Howells to miss Harriers trip

HATTERS will be without Jake Howells for their trip to Kidderminster Harriers tomorrow evening, writes Mike Simmonds.

The midfielder is part of the Wales U21 squad who face Armenia in a European U21 Championship qualifier at the Racecourse Ground, home of Wrexham on Wednesday evening.

Boss Paul Buckle said: “It’s a shame, but you do your preparation and then you lose a player.

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“I spoke to George (Geraint) Williams who does the team and he’s apologised. It’s an opportunity for someone else to step in.

“(JJ) O’Donnell stepped up, he’s a big plus for me and showed he can play the level. So it’s a big chance for someone else with him being out.

“It’s a great honour being selected and we’re pleased for him, but our focus has got to be to try and win the game without Jake and I’m confident in the players.”

Meanwhile, the game also comes too soon for centre half Garry Richards, who although being back in training, isn’t ready for consideration.

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Buckle continued: “Richards is a slow one, and it’s tough because you talk about being in the box and that’s why I brought him to the club.

“Richards defends the box, he’s aggressive, no nonsense, you wouldn’t want to go near him. We need him back quickly but at the same time I can’t rush him.”

Stuart Fleetwood missed training on Monday due to a funeral, while Buckle will check the fitness of fellow forward Jon Shaw, before deciding if he will make a first Town start after his debut goal at the weekend.

The boss added: “I’ll speak to Jon, we’ll have a chat tomorrow and I’ll be governed by Jon, he knows his own body.

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“On Saturday he changed the game for us, you can’t hide that away. After the game I used him as an example to the players and I very rarely do that in my managerial career.

“But you have to because you could see on Saturday why he’s scored 30 plus goals and you could see he was the real deal.

“He put his body on the line and was a pain for them. The first thing he did when he came on was track back, smash the guy off the ball in midfield and get it going forward. It was brilliant for us and if he’s feeling good he’ll start.

“It was great he scored and the determination he showed for his goal was fantastic and that will give him confidence.

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“He’s not fully fit, but when he’s fit he’s going to be something else. Lads like Andre Gray, even Fleetwood have got to look at that, see what he does.

“We can’t have any player at the club that’s going to shirk anything. We want a squad that’s going to do the nasty side and be hard to beat.”

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