BURY manager Kevin Blackwell has his fingers crossed that the winter sickness bug that has been sweeping the country will not decimate his threadbare squad ahead of tomorrow’s trip to Carlisle.

On-loan Wanderers winger Gregg Wylde came down with the virus on Boxing Day morning and was forced to miss the Shakers’ goalless draw at Preston.

The club later confirmed that centre-back Efe Sodje decided to play despite suffering nausea and flu-like symptoms beforehand.

“We can’t afford anybody to be missing,” said a worried Blackwell after Wednesday’s match.

“What was on the pitch on Boxing Day was all that was available to Bury Football Club.”

Blackwell is already struggling to juggle his squad with six other players currently missing due to injury and illness.

He is also hamstrung by a transfer embargo, imposed on the club by the Football League after the Shakers directors took out a PFA loan to cover a cashflow problem.

That means he will be unable to draft in any replacements once the transfer window opens on January 1 until the club has repaid the loan.

Blackwell admitted Wylde would more than likely miss Saturday’s trip to fellow strugglers Carlisle and would be kept away from the squad as a precaution until he is clear of the symptoms.

“I know this sickness bug has been quite a severe thing,” said Blackwell.

“So how long he will be out of the squad, I don’t know.”

Despite Wylde’s illness, the Bury manager is still relieved that he agreed to extend his initial month-long loan at Gigg Lane to the end of January. The deal was finally sealed on Christmas Eve after the Football League confirmed the embargo would not stop Bury from extending the registration of players already signed up with the club.

“I’ve got to thank Dougie Freedman and Bolton – Dougie in particular but Bolton in general – for allowing Gregg to extend his stay here,” added Blackwell.

“Dougie was fantastic when I rang him late on Sunday night. And then the Football League, through Jill Neville (Bury’s general manager/secretary), were great as well.

“We weren’t able to fill the bench last Friday (against Shrewsbury) and were struggling to fill the bench on Boxing Day as well, which I think focussed a few people’s minds.

“Thankfully, it happened, unfortunately Gregg then came down with sickness and diarrhoea. So having been elated on Christmas Eve we were all deflated by Boxing Day, but that’s football.”

Bury will also be without Andy Bishop (heel), Adam Lockwood (hip), Phil Picken (knee), Mark Carrington (groin), Ethan Ebanks-Landell (ankle) and Shane Byrne (virus) at Carlisle.