TRAFFORD boss Tom Baker heads into the busy festive programme looking to bounce back from defeat at Hyde and set a foundation in place for the second half of the season.

The Shawe View men were denied action last weekend due to a frozen pitch putting paid to their home game against Skelmersdale United.

It meant they could not get a 6-1 defeat at Hyde – their first in 11 games – quickly out of their system.

But rather than rue that fact, Baker says it may have been a blessing in disguise, allowing several members of his squad to recover from illness and injury.

And he knows he will need as many troops fit and able for a run of four games in nine days, starting at Evo-Stik North leaders South Shields on Saturday.

Baker told The Messenger: "Of course, after a defeat you want to get back out there and play quickly, particularly when you lose heavily in the manner we did at Hyde.

"But on the flip side, it may be a blessing for us as we have been really struggling will injuries and illness which has swept through the squad.

"Having a blank weekend gives us extra time to try and get people fit and ready for this hectic schedule over Christmas.

"We probably still won't be at full strength on Saturday at South Shields but we will go there and give it a go.

"They are flawless at home having won all seven league games so it's a bit of a free hit for us as we are not expected to get anything.

"But before the Hyde defeat we had gone 10 games unbeaten and found some form so if we can get back to that, then who knows?"

Whether they can topple the leaders who sit six places and 14 points better off than Trafford, Baker hopes it can be a positive festive season on the pitch in readiness for what he hopes will be a successful 2018.

He added: "It's always a busy time of year in football and it will be a test on the squad with some players unavailable for different days.

"We will train as normal but having so many games means you don't need to train much.

"It can be difficult for managers at this level with players naturally eating and drinking more than usual at Christmas but we have a professional group and I'm sure we will be okay.

"We want a good Christmas with as many points as possible to set us up for a good new year.

"Although the league gets stronger every season, we have shown we can do well with our 10-match unbeaten run,

"We want close to promotion last season and a good second half of this campaign may get us close again."