SHOLING may have to make do without the formidable frontline presence of Jamie Musselwhite for the rest of the season.

The towering targetman had a problem with his ankle when he joined the Boatmen from Sydenhams Premier neighbours GE Hamble in November.

So far he has been able to grin and bear the discomfort to help pull Sholing up to mid-table respectability in the Evo-Stik Southern One South & West.

But he didn’t feature in Wednesday’s excellent 3-1 home win over in-form Yate and manager Dave Diaper, pictured right, revealed: “It looks like he’ll be hitting football on the head.

“We knew Jamie had a problem with his ankle when he joined us and it’s been giving him a lot of gyp.

“He feels he needs to rest it for at least a month or so and he’s really disappointed that he can’t contribute what he knows he can.

“But I respect Jamie massively for letting me know. A lot of players would blag it, take the money and then blag it again.

“He’ll be a big loss for us because he takes a lot of the weight off Lee Wort’s shoulders up front.

“But we’ve got the strength of Byron Mason (pictured right) playing just behind Worty and when we get the ball down and play it’s quite effective.”

That was certainly the case against Yate – a performance described by Diaper as “the best we’ve played all season”.

And tomorrow the 14th-placed Boatmen will be gunning for another of the league’s form sides when third-placed Merthyr Town visit the Silverlake Arena.

The Welshmen have won seven and drawn two of nine league games since losing 2-1 to Yate in early December.

One of those draws was a 2-2 against Sholing at Penydarren Park and, if the Boatmen’s midweek form is anything to go by, Merthyr can expect another tight battle tomorrow.

“We were unbelievable against Yate,” said Diaper. “Everything we talked about in training on Monday came to fruition.

“Byron (Mason) played with a dead leg for most of the game and Tyronne Bowers had a dodgy ankle. “But everyone worked really hard for each other and, if they continue to do that, they will never have a problem with me.

“We were without Kev Brewster (foot) and Marc Diaper (ribs), but young Alex Sawyer came in at right-back and played really well and I also put on midfielder Les Mwenze, a London lad from Solent University, who impressed me playing for the reserves on Tuesday.

“This is a transitional season for us and we’re blooding youngsters to see how they will fare for next year. It’s all coming good.”