JAKE Moult faces a race against time to be fit for the start of Altrincham's National League North campaign after undergoing surgery for a hernia problem that troubled him towards the end of last season.

Alty's inspirational skipper has had a double hernia operation, and manager Phil Parkinson admitted he would be 'touch and go' for the opening fixture on Saturday, August 3.

The recovery period of at least five weeks would appear to count against him, but such is the midfielder's determination to lead the team out on day one, Parkinson refused to rule him out at this stage.

"We were umming and ahing about whether he should have the op, but it was the right decision because it needed doing," said Parkinson.

'He was not getting a definitive answer from the consultant, but I just felt that after this amount of time, and the age he is, it probably was what we thought and it was right to get him in and get it sorted.

"It was a double hernia, and he will do well to make the opening game.

"It's going to be touch and go, but, knowing Jake, he is a very fit lad and he will be a terrible patient.

"The biggest thing for us will be keeping the reins on him and making sure there are no risks taken.

"He will do his rehab properly. There are no concerns about that, but he does hate missing time on the pitch.

"He hates it if I take him off in a game, never mind not being able to train and play.

"That's going to be hard work in itself for me, keeping him on the straight and narrow, but I've got to make sure he doesn't overdo it.

"I think it will be five weeks for Jake to be available again.

"Six weeks is normally the benchmark, but because Jake is so fit and because I know what he is like, I'll be surprised if it's longer than five."

Alty are at least well served in central midfield after the recent signing of Conor Branson, who marked his first appearance for the Robins with a goal in a 5-0 win against the club's youth team last weekend.