SIGNING a new striker is “the immediate priority” for Witton Albion after manager Carl Macauley confirmed frontman Will Jones will miss the remainder of the season.

Jones suffered a double fracture to his jaw during Saturday’s 3-1 defeat at Ashton United and has had surgery to insert metal plates into his face.

Macauley says the surgery was successful but that he will not play again before the end of the current campaign – something he described as “a massive loss.”

Efforts to recruit a replacement in time for Albion’s trip to relegation-threatened Matlock Town on Saturday, kick off 3pm, are ongoing but Macauley concedes it is a difficult time of year to bring goalscorers in.

“We haven’t got a player like Will Jones and that’s why he will be difficult to replace,”

“The operation was successful which is good news, but the bad news is he is going to be missing for the rest of the season.

“It is going to make a huge, huge difference to Witton Albion Football Club.

“I know he has his critics out there, but he will be well and truly missed because of what he does for us in terms of getting hold of things.

“I know his strengths aren’t scoring goals. He chips in with a few, but his strengths are assisting and being a handful for defenders.

“It’s a massive loss for us but the most important thing is Will’s health and that he’s come through the operation well.

“Everyone’s gutted for him and we hope he gets a speedy recovery now.

“We’re going to have to tweak a couple of things here and there. Our priority is to bring a centre forward in, but it’s a difficult time of year for that.

“Everyone is tied up for different reasons, whether its fighting for promotion and play-offs or against relegation.

“As soon as we heard the news about Will, we were on the phone and searching straight away. We haven’t got anything yet but we’ll keep looking.”

A run of three games without a win has come at a bad time for Albion as they slip further off the pace in the BetVictor Northern Premier League Premier Division play-off race.

Heading into Saturday’s trip to Derbyshire, they sit 10th and the gap between themselves and Nantwich Town – the team who occupy the final play-off spot in fifth – is now nine points with Albion having played three games more.

Matlock need the points for their own reasons – they are just three points clear of the relegation places but the appointment of new manager Paul Phillips has brought about a positive reaction.

“Like every game we’ll come across now, it will be difficult,” Macauley said.

“The new manager has come in at Matlock and has given them a lift.

“He’ll probably have a very different philosophy to the old manager there and will bring in the players he wants.

“All those reasons will make it difficult for us, but all we can control is working hard to try and get the result we want.”