• Kieran Horn

Exeter City could be without important quartet of first team players ahead of clash with Barrow

Matt Taylor has revealed that Sam Nombe, Kieran Phillips and Josh Key will need to be assessed before the weekend’s game against Barrow, with Sam Stubbs definitely out of contention.

The Grecians produced a remarkable comeback against Harrogate Town on Tuesday night, making it four consecutive wins in League Two with Jack Sparkes’ goal five minutes into added time pushing Exeter into the automatic promotion places.

But the efforts of those in red and white on Tuesday has come at a slight cost as Taylor could potentially be without four first team players, with the shoulder injury to Stubbs the most worrying for the Grecians boss.

“We picked up another couple of injuries from Tuesday night," Taylor said. “We’ve got some tired bodies and probably some sore bodies as well today.

“Off the back of Tuesday, we are definitely down one player in Sam Stubbs. His shoulder injury is severe enough for him to not be in consideration for the game this weekend.

“He’s been to see a specialist today and it’s an injury serious enough to put him out of contention this weekend.

“But it’s his shoulder, not his knee, ankle or hip. I know he’s a physical player and he uses his body, but if anything is going to get injured let it be your top half as opposed to your bottom half.”

For the first time this season Josh Key missed a League Two game after being rested on Tuesday following some niggling injury problems, while Kieran Phillips was absent from the squad after his first goal for the Grecians last Saturday against Bradford.

The pair are yet to train with the first team ahead of this weekend’s match, so are definite doubts while Sam Nombe is unlikely to start as well after a combination of tactical and enforced changes on Tuesday meant he played for longer than was originally planned.

“Sam Nombe played 90 minutes when we had him down to play 60,” Taylor explained. "So, I fully expect him to not be able to be in the right position in terms of his body to start the game in all honesty.

“Kieran Phillips hasn’t been out on the pitches yet, so we’ll assess him tomorrow and Josh Key who was on the bench Tuesday and didn’t get out on the pitch, hasn’t trained since then so there’s a few question marks and a few creaking bodies.

“We’ve got to be sensible and mindful of where they are, but we also want to win to win this game of football.

“We have a mini break, so to speak, after the weekend. So, they will certainly get the Monday off and they will certainly get a couple of days to regroup and regenerate those energy sources they’ll need moving forward.”

Amidst the sea of bad news regarding injuries and fitness, Taylor did receive some good news regarding Offrande Zanzala who was forced off a few weeks ago against Walsall with a knee injury in just his second City game after joining on loan from Barrow in January.

The initial prognosis was worrying for the Grecians, but Taylor revealed his surgery went very well and put a welcoming time frame on his potential return.

“First news is positive,” he said. “The two tears I spoke about, only one was not repaired it was just taken out, so the tear was removed from the cartilage. The second tear the surgeon felt he could leave it in and it wouldn’t affect Oz in any way.

“We’re only a week into his rehab, but best case scenario for the football club in the run in is that he’s back in 3-6 weeks.

“It will depend on his recovery process and his movements from now on. He’s got to let the scars heal first and foremost. But already the physios were talking about him being out on the pitch next week running around, not training with the group but doing some straight line running so that’s a good sign.”