Jon McCarthy says there will be 'no excuses' for his Chester FC team this weekend.

After back-to-back defeats to Solihull Moors over the festive period, Chester make the long trip to Essex on Saturday looking to bounce back to winning ways in the Vanarama National League at Braintree Town.

McCarthy looks set to be without the services of both Ryan Lloyd and Theo Vassell after their loan deals came to an end on New Year's Day.

But the Blues boss is hopeful that he will have Craig Mahon back in his ranks after the Irishman returned to training following an injury which has sidelined him since the start of December.

McCarthy said: "No excuses. I will be able to pick a good team that can get a result at Braintree. If we don't then it will be my fault.

"He (Mahon) has progressed really well and I'm just waiting to have the chance to involve him in the squad," said McCarthy.

"Ross Killock as well, he has been out running, and it has come at a good time with us losing a couple of people. We are starting to get a couple of bodies back because we were looking a bit light."

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Braintree were on a five-match unbeaten run before being beaten 3-0 by Dagenham & Redbridge on New Year's Day.

The Iron made the play-offs last season under current Lincoln City manager Danny Cowley but have struggled this season after losing some of their key assets following his switch to the Imps.

They lost the services of star winger Simeon Akinola to Barnet earlier this week for a £40,000 fee, but McCarthy isn't taking them lightly.

He said: "They have had a couple of sendings off in recent games and gone 4-4-2 in the last couple of games. They have some experience with (Jack) Midson and I recognise some of the traits they have had hungover from the previous regime (under Cowley).

Braintree winger Simeon Akinola takes on Chester's Ben Heneghan in last season's meeting between the two sides

"It will be a tough game going there because they have had a better run, but in amongst that run they have showed some weaknesses and a bit of frailty that we can capitalise on and I want to see a reaction from our players."