BURY have been handed a welcome boost ahead of Saturday’s crucial League One clash at home to Leyton Orient after Andy Bishop, David Healy and Steven Schumacher returned to training.

Assistant boss Peter Shirtliff confirmed that the injured trio would be available for selection if they come through the rest of the week’s sessions unscathed.

“Bishop and Healy both trained alongside Schumacher, so that was three positives,” said Shirtliff.

“Hopefully they will have no reaction, and, if that’s the case, they would really strengthen the squad, so it’s great news.”

Bury have struggled on for the past month without four key players down the spine of the team.

Central defender Adam Lockwood remains sidelined with a groin problem, but the return of Schumacher to centre midfield and Healy and Bishop up front would give Shirtliff and manager Kevin Blackwell the options they crave.

Schumacher, the team captain, has missed the last two matches after damaging ankle ligaments in training, while Healy has not played since scoring for Northern Ireland at the start of November.

Bishop’s season has been stop-start, with a niggling heel injury restricting the 29-year-old striker to just two brief substitute appearances in the last six games.

Their absences have not overtly affected results, with just one defeat in the last nine, but Blackwell had no strikers to turn to on the bench on Saturday as Bury drew 1-1 at home to League Two Southend in the second round of the FA Cup.

The Shakers now enter a run of eight games in 29 days, starting with a chance to haul themselves out of the relegation places against Orient at the weekend.

And Shirtliff knows Bury will need a full squad if they are to pull away from the drop zone over the festive period.

“We’ve got plenty of games coming up and we need everybody fit,” he said.

“We want to be strong in terms of numbers and we want to get as many points as possible throughout the league programme.

“We also want to win the FA Cup replay on Tuesday, but we’ve got a big league game coming up, so the lads are going to be fully focused on that.”

He added: “They’ve done well. All right, we didn’t play particularly well on Saturday but we still had enough opportunities to have put the game to bed. The players are confident and we’ve just got to keep plugging away.”

The Bury number two has also been impressed with his new boss after stepping aside for Blackwell following a run of nine games without a win as caretaker manager at the start of the season.

“It’s been good,” he said.

“It’s been different, obviously, but it needed it. The young players that Kevin has brought in have added energy and vibrancy to the place and they’ve done well.”