A DEEPENING injury crisis at the Hollingsworth Group Stadium could even force director of football Andy Preece to come out of retirement.

The 47-year-old former Football League striker is considering registering as a player ahead of Sunday's Welsh Premier clash against Cefn Druids at The Rock.

Forwards Chris Budrys and Ryan Wignall are both injured while Ryan Wade is suspended.

Andy Jones, who would normally deputise up front for Budrys is required in central defence to replace Ian Kearney, who faces a long spell on the sidelines after being forced-off in last Saturday's victory over Rhyl.

In addition, midfielder Jake Eyre is also injured, while Lee Owens, Ashley Williams and Jonny Spittle are struggling.

Only eight players were able to train on Tuesday night, including goalkeeper James Coates, which has left Preece with few options, one of which is a playing return more than four years after he last turned out for Northwich Victoria.

On 21 August 2010, at the age of 43, Preece returned to competitive action for the first time in three years by coming off the substitutes' bench in the 90th minute, in a game which Northwich won 1–0 against Retford United on the opening day of the 2010/11 Northern Premier League Premier Division season.

On 17 February 2011, he scored a seven-minute hat-trick as Northwich defeated Barnton in the Mid-Cheshire Senior Cup.

"I might have to. There might not be any other option," Preece told the Leader.

"The other options are loans from within the Welsh Premier or free transfers and we are searching around.

"Kearney went to see a specialist on Wednesday, but the early signs aren’t good.

"Buds’ injury has settled down a bit, but he will struggle for a couple of weeks."

The Wingmakers' starting line-up at Druids is likely to include only one out and out attacker in Ellis Healing and Preece added: "We might have to adopt a Barcelona system with no striker, we might bring the false number nine to the Welsh Premier League."

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