THE return of captain and defensive rock George Horan cannot come soon enough for concerned Blues boss Neil Young.
Horan’s leadership and organisational qualities were sorely missed as Chester went down to a desperately disappointing defeat at Curzon Ashton on Monday, a result which ensured the title race will go down to the final eight days of the season.
But having served a two-game ban, centre-back Horan will hand his manager a timely boost by returning to the starting line-up for Saturday’s trip to Radcliffe Borough (3pm).
Young, who was dismayed by the way his table-topping team defended against Curzon, said: “George is our best defender, our captain and a massive player for the team – not just in his own game but the way he leads others.
“Even when George has a bad game he leaves nothing out on the pitch. He’s 150% irrespective of whether he’s good, bad or indifferent.
“And what you will always get from him if he does have a bad game is he will come back and play 10 times better.
“He’s been awesome all season but if we’re going to win this title I’m going to need to have 11 George Horans out on the pitch.”
Young is acutely aware of the need to cut out the defensive mistakes because the league will be decided on goal difference if both the Blues and rivals Skelmersdale United win all their remaining matches.
Skem, who have played one game fewer and have an inferior goal difference of seven, are just three points off the pace in second.
They came from behind to beat Lancaster City on Tuesday with a late penalty from one-time Chester midfielder Kyle Armstrong.
If the Blues are to lift the title in their final home match of the campaign against Bamber Bridge on Saturday week, they require a major slip-up from Tommy Lawson’s team.
Young, who watched this weekend’s opponents Radcliffe lose at basement boys Leigh Genesis on Tuesday, said: “If, with four games to go and having come so close to achieving what we all came here to do, we play like we did against Curzon then I’ve got problems.
“But on the flipside I’m staying positive as it’s also the same team that’s got 90 points this season.
“It’s no good me being negative because if I do it could undo all the good work we’ve done. I’ll say it again, we’re on 90 points and that’s a massive achievement by the players.
“But they’ve put themselves in a great position where the people of Chester expect and I expect.”
Iain Howard’s three-match suspension begins on Saturday, ruling the midfielder out until the last game of the season away to Garforth Town on Friday, April 29.