NEW ROLE: Neal Spafford has joined the Tulips' management team. Photo by JAKE WHITELEY

Spaff joins Spalding United coaching staff after knee injury rules him out for rest of season

Spalding United have handed Neal Spafford a role on the management team after the defender received the worst possible news about his knee injury.

The dedicated centre-back has been told that he’s torn his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and is expected to undergo surgery in a bid to repair it early next year.

That rules Spafford out for the rest of the BetVictor NPL South East season – but Tulips boss Matt Easton is hoping that giving the ex-Wisbech Town ace a new role will help turn a massive negative into some kind of positive.

“The news couldn’t have been much worse for Spaff,” admitted Easton. “It’s a massive blow, not only for him, but us as a club too.

“We hope that giving him a role on the management team gives him some kind of consolation.

“The lads here love him and his knowledge is great, he’ll be a real asset. It’ll give him a chance to cut his teeth in management too; who knows, maybe he’ll end up replacing me when my time is up!

“We’re pleased that he’ll still be around the club. He’s a real clubman and it’s always great to have him in any capacity.”

Having extended their unbeaten run to three games in Saturday’s 0-0 draw with Sheffield FC, the Tulips run into a familiar foe when they visit Frickley Athletic this Saturday (3pm).

Their boss Dave Frecklington was in charge of Spalding during one of their most impressive seasons in recent memory back in 2016/17 and Easton knows what to expect this weekend.

“I don’t think we’ll be surprised by Dave’s tactics,” added the Tulips chief.

“They’ll be nice and direct, fully committed and also full of quality – especially up top.

“Make no mistake, he’ll want to get one over his old team. It’s up to us to match them, we certainly have the quality to get something.”

Spalding should welcome back Lewis Brownhill and Jack Withers, but George Zuerner, Josh Spencer and Michael Duggan are either out or rated very doubtful.

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