CHESTER look set to go into tomorrow's League Two game against Oxford United at the Saunders Honda Stadium with only one recognised striker.
Manager Ian Rush admitted yesterday he was running out of options, although he had planned to see a player in action last night.
He and assistant Mark Aizlewood have been urgently seeking a player to replace Daryl Clare, who signed for Boston United last week, and injured Michael Branch, but so far to no avail.
'The players we wanted aren't available and I am only going to bring players in who will strengthen the squad,' said the City boss. 'If we manage a signing on Friday I think he would be on the bench at best.'
City had two trialists from AFC Wimbledon in the reserves on Wednesday, but neither would be signed by tomorrow - if at all. Striker Rob Ursell who has scored nine goals in 15 outings for his club in the Ryman League this season, scored in the 3-1 defeat by Bury, but went off injured, while defender Mickey Woolner lasted for 90 minutes.
'They both did well and we may have another look at them, but they have returned to their club for the weekend,' added Rush.
Ursell clearly enjoyed himself, despite receiving a knock on the foot scoring the goal. He told the AFC Wimbledon web-site: 'It was a really interesting couple of days. I'm a Liverpool fan, so being met by Ian Rush was pretty amazing. I think we both gave a good account of ourselves.'
Aizlewood travelled to Rotherham on Tuesday to have a look at the Millers' reserve team striker Richard Barker, who has also scored goals for Doncaster and Brighton, but he prefers to stay nearer his home town of Sheffield. Mansfield are also interested.
Rush hinted he could play midfielder and joint top scorer Kevin Ellison up front tomorrow alongside Kevin Rapley, who is the only recognised striker available.
To add to his problems skipper Paul Carden is suspended for one game, so Ben Davies looks set to return to the starting line-up after being on the bench at Northampton.
Oxford have won only one of their last 10 games and have lost their last six on their travels, but Rush insists his team will not take that record lightly.
'Oxford are having a poor time, but they have a new manager and the players will want to impress him, so we have to treat them with great respect,' he said.
Chester take on local rivals Wrexham on Tuesday for the first time since 1997 when they clash in the third round of the LDV Vans Trophy (7.45).
It will be Rush's first cross-border derby and he accepts his team will be the underdogs, despite Wrexham's troubles.
'We are playing a team from a higher division, so it is going to be a challenge' he said.
'We are aiming to get to that league, so this is a good chance to improve our knowledge. The fans can play a big part in the game, so I hope they will get fully behind us.'
This is an all-ticket tie and there are still plenty of tickets left for home fans, available today and after tomorrow's game.
Tickets are on sale today (10am-4pm) and after tomorrow's game for the all-ticket home game against Shrewsbury Town on Saturday, December 11. Remaining tickets will be available from Monday to Friday next week (10am-4pm). Season ticket holders do not need a ticket.
Chester meet Tranmere Rovers at Clifton Drive, off Sealand Road, tomorrow (11am) in the Football League Youth Alliance Cup.