BURY boss Kevin Blackwell has challenged midfielder Peter Sweeney to keep captain Steven Schumacher out of the Shakers side after his virtuoso performance in Saturday’s 2-2 draw with Bournemouth.
Sweeney, who has figured only from the bench of late, was drafted into the starting line-up before the game after Schumacher turned his ankle on Bury’s boggy training pitch during the week.
The 28-year-old played some typically incisive passes, non more so than the ball inside Cherries left-back Charlie Daniels which freed Matt Doherty to cross for Troy Hewitt’s superb opening goal.
Sweeney might also have been on the scoresheet, but his 29th-minute free kick was brilliantly turned round the post by former England goalkeeper David James.
“Schuey is injured, and Sweens has now got to make sure he doesn’t get back in,” said Blackwell. “I thought he did so well in the game. He’s not known for his work rate, but I thought he showed it. It might not be too late in his career to learn that part of the game.
“But there is no doubting his ability on the ball.”
The player himself was delighted to be back in the team, but said he and his team-mates were disappointed to have conceded Brett Pitman’s injury-time equaliser.
“The fact that we were gutted to concede, just shows how far we’ve come,” said Sweeney.
“We were the better side for most of the game, but it was a good point and we’ll take the positives out of it.
“It was a fast-paced game – two in-form teams coming at each other for 90 minutes. Our training has been really tough and you can see that everyone’s in tip-top shape.
“They are one of the top teams in the division and we’ve more than matched them.
“We’ve got good players sitting on the bench and we all know that if you lose your place, there are other people who can come in and take it.
“Injuries (to Schumacher) are part and parcel of football, and it’s our job to fill in the best we can and do what’s right for the team.”