JAMIE Reed’s spell down the middle as an out-and-out striker looks set to continue going into two tough tests for Northwich Victoria.

The 32-year-old former Football League frontman, brought in from Ashton United in the summer, has proven inspirational of late since switching from a wide position.

Steve Wilkes will need him in top form again as they welcome Hanley Town to Wincham Park on Saturday, 3pm, before visiting North West Counties League Premier Division leaders Rylands on Tuesday, 7.45pm.

“Jamie’s come with a very good reputation and he’s played at the highest level, having played at York City in the Football League,” said Wilkes.

“He’s just turned 32 and I think he’d be the first to admit and agree that when he first came in he struggled to find his feet.

“There are people who think that when you drop down a couple of divisions it’s going to be easy but it’s not.

“You don’t have the same time as you do higher up the leagues. But these last two games against Burscough and Irlam, Jamie Reed’s come to the fore and come to the party.

“He’s looked unplayable at times which is great for us and will only benefit us if he keeps doing what he’s been doing the last two or three games.”

Wilkes added: “We’d been playing him wide right of a three.

“Me and Jamie had a chat a couple of weeks ago because he wasn’t producing what we thought he was going to produce.

“He asked to play down the middle as an out-and-out number nine which he has done the last two games and scored four goals.

“From a manager’s point of view, that’s fantastic that he’s come to me and said can we change it a little bit, that he knows he’s not playing as well as he wants to do and thinks he might be better down the middle.

“Some managers would have said ‘No, I pick the team you play where I play you’ but I’ve never been one of those managers that doesn’t listen to his players because if you don’t listen you don’t get the respect.

“We sat down, had a good chat over the phone, he said he feels more threatening down the middle and four goals in two games proves that.

“He could have had 14 in two with the chances he created.

“In our last game against Irlam in the first half he was unplayable.

“The last couple of games he’s looked like the very good player that we thought we were bringing in.”

Wilkes hopes to have some bodies back for the clash with Hanley, who last time out became the only side to beat Rylands so far this season.

He would not have had Phil Doran (hamstring) and Joe Camozzi (away) had the weekend's away clash with high-flying Longridge Town gone ahead.

Wilkes has brought in former Vics midfielder Kieran Nolan, 22, on loan from Atherton Collieries for a month.

Nolan had a spell with the club under previous Trickies’ manager Adam Lakeland in 2016.

He is a rugged, tough-tackling central midfielder with the ability to also slot in anywhere across the rearguard in defence.

Nolan also counts Salford City, Runcorn Linnets and Mossley among his former employers.

"I’d like to thank Michael Clegg at Atherton Collieries for allowing us to take Kieran for an initial month's loan while we have a little injury crisis," said Wilkes.

"He’s got great ability and I believe he was a favourite with the fans in his last spell here.

"I’ve been trying to sign Kieran for the last 18 months, so I can at least say I’ve got my man, albeit for a month."

Wilkes knows a tough contest awaits his men against Hanley.

“Hanley have had two good results. They beat Barnoldswick 3-0 at home and then Rylands 2-1 on Saturday, becoming the first team to beat them," he said.

“It’ll be a tough one. Two or three weeks ago people on the outside would have looked at that and thought that’s three points for Northwich Victoria, though I’d never think that.

“But the last two games they’ve turned things round. I think they’ve signed one or two fringe players from Leek Town, so they’ve improved their squad and it’s going to be a really tough game.

“We’ve just got to keep doing what we’ve been doing.

"We’ve scored 17 goals in the last three home games. We need to keep that going, we beat Litherland 8-0, Burscough 6-1, so to concede three last Wednesday in the draw with Irlam was a bit of a reality check.

“We’ll go into Saturday fingers crossed full strength and hopefully we can carry on going forward how we’ve been scoring goals and shut up at the back.”