'Huge blow' for Weston as Ben Whitehead suffers season-ending injury
PUBLISHED: 11:00 04 September 2019
Weston boss Scott Bartlett has suffered a 'huge blow' after Ben Whitehead was ruled out for the season with a knee injury.
The striker, who already has two goals to his name this season, ruptured his anterior crucial ligament (ACL) in the 2-0 win at Truro City on August 26 - ruling him out for the rest of the campaign.
Whitehead, who signed from Cirencester Town in the summer, had chipped in with vital goals - a stoppage-time equaliser against Hendon and the winner against Hayes & Yeading United - but his season has been cut short as result of a 'naughty challenge' he suffered in Cornwall.
The 25-year-old's injury leaves Nick McCootie, Owen Howe and Jay Malshanskyj as Bartlett's striking options.
The manager said: "It's a shame because he's a really good lad and a big member of the group.
"He poked in a couple of important goals for us already so we'll have to find a way of replacing that, either externally or internally, but obviously our priority is to look after Ben.
"He will work closely with the physio Becca now. We're going to get him back but it's going to take a long time.
"He's disappointed because he's worked so hard after having an unrelated knee injury last season. It was a bit of a naughty challenge from behind against Truro - I don't think we even got a foul for it on the day but we took him off as a precaution.
"Ben was the perfect foil for Nick and Owen because he's clever and doesn't give defenders a minute's rest. Ben understands the level so it's not just his goals we're going to have to replace; it's his knowhow from playing 250 games at this type of level."
Bartlett, whose side sit third in the Southern League with 12 points from six games, told the Mercury he and assistant boss Scott Laird have 'plenty of options' as they look for a replacement.
Bartlett added: "It will open up a door for someone else in the short term, and we will see if we need to bring anyone else in or not.
"We've got lists of loads of players in every position which we've been working on since I arrived. We're constantly monitoring players at all levels, including loan players, players in the league above and players in the league below that we think might come available should we need them.
"There's different ways to do it. When we were here before we paid £1,800 for Gethyn Hill, but we went £900 under budget for two weeks prior to doing that.
"If we think there's a need to pay a fee, which I don't think there will be as there are so many players out there, we need to make sure our recruitment is right again."