CHIPPENHAM Town manager Mark Collier believes long-term injuries to key players has had a serious effect on his side’s form in National League South, but has tipped the Bluebirds to bounce back this weekend against high-flying Concord Rangers.

Chippenham have now gone four games in all competitions without a win and have slipped down to 12th in the table, yet are still only two points outside of the play-off places.

Collier will still be without striker Yan Klukowski, midfielder Alex Ferguson as well as club captain Greg Tindle for this weekend’s trip to Concord due to injury, with first-choice goalkeeper Will Puddy having only returned to full-time training this week.

The Chippenham manager says his squad have had their character tested of late, but has backed his troops to get back to winning ways on Saturday following a rare fixtureless weekend.

Collier said: “I don’t doubt for one second that we can bounce back in these next few games.

“Concord had been on a bad run, but they’ve picked themselves up over the last few weeks and they’re flying at the moment.

“We’ve lost a little bit of form and confidence. We gave the players the week off after the Salisbury game (on December 11) and we come back refreshed and ready for the weekend.

“We’ve hit a little dip in form, but that happens in this division. We’re not the only team to do it and I’m sure it will happen to others throughout the season.

“We’ve got a relatively small squad and a couple of players have lost a bit of confidence and we’re aware that that happens as well. That, coupled with long-term injuries, has had quite a big effect on us.

“When we’ve wanted to rotate the squad and freshen up, we’ve not been able to bring in the same quality as what we’ve got sat in the stands.

“To think we’re in our second season in what we call the top table of non-league football and if you consider where we are in the table, I think credit should go to everybody really.”

Chippenham begin a sequence of four games in 10 days on Saturday, also playing home and away against Bath City on Boxing Day and New Year’s Day either side of a home game with Hampton & Richmond Borough on December 29.

Collier feels talk of a slump needs to be put into perspective and people must realise that his side are already punching above their weight as they go hunting an unlikely play-off place.

He said: “We don’t have any points totals in mind over the Christmas period. We just hope we come through these games in good form and without any injuries because that’s the last thing we need right now.

“The target at the start of the season was progression from last year. We need to make sure we establish ourselves in this division and that’s our objective.

“We’re two points off the play-offs. If anyone had said to me ‘you’re going to be two points off the play-offs at this point’ I’d have taken it.

“With the league as it is this year, with some huge non-league clubs in it, it’s very difficult but we’ll go toe to toe with everybody and we’re enjoying ourselves in this division.”