CHIPPENHAM TOWN: Bluebirds' Luke is on national service

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald: Chippenham Town's Luke Ballinger is aiming to make history with the England futsal team Chippenham Town's Luke Ballinger is aiming to make history with the England futsal team

LUKE Ballinger will be missing when Chippenham Town take on Banbury United this weekend as he aims to help the England Futsal team make history in Lithuania.

The Bluebirds’ winger will captain the national side as they take on the hosts tomorrow and Cyprus on Saturday as the long road to qualification for UEFA European Futsal Championships 2014 in Belgium gets underway.

Ballinger and England are hoping to top a three-team group in the preliminary qualifying round and secure a place in the main qualifiers for the first time.

Futsal is a small-sided variation of football, played mainly indoors using a smaller ball, with the emphasis on technique.

“We’re the bottom seed in the group but we know that we’ve got a better chance of getting past this stage than we ever have before,” said Ballinger, who has won more than 50 caps.

“Lithuania are a good side and Cyprus are our rivals, who we always seem to get drawn against – they’ve beaten us in friendlies but we’ve won when it’s been qualifiers, so hopefully we can keep that going.

“I’ve been involved for six years now and it’s still great to walk around wearing that badge on your chest.

“Unfortunately, it looks like I’m going to be missing a few more matches for Chippenham but Rudgey and Feyer have been great.

“A few of the Chippenham lads are going to try and come to watch me when we play Turkey at home in London (a friendly on February 8).”

Ballinger, from Seend, will be looking for payback against England Futsal team-mate Alex Campana when Chippenham host Hemel Hempstead Town in the Evo-Stik League Southern Premier Division.

But the Bluebirds man will have to wait to renew hostilities with Campana, who scored the winner when the Tudors triumphed 2-1 over Nathan Rudge’s side on the opening day of the season, after next Tuesday’s clash at Hardenhuish Park was postponed due to Hemel’s involvement in the Herts Senior Cup.

Ballinger said: “He’s always bringing up that he scored the winner so it would be nice to get him back.”

Rudge’s men will be looking to build on a run of five successive draws with all three points when they host Banbury this weekend, who are a point and a place below the Bluebirds in 15th place.

n Chippenham’s postponed trips to Cambridge City and Bashley have been re-arranged for February 19 and 26 respectively.

Meanwhile, Melksham Town’s Toolstation League Premier Division clash at Longwell Green Sports scheduled for Tuesday evening, was postponed as the cold snap continued.

Melksham’s Wiltshire Senior Cup quarter final with Bradford Town was among the casualties last Saturday and will now be played on Monday, February 18.

The weather wiped out all fixtures involving county sides.

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