TOM Soares could not have timed his return to the first-team fold better after Bury manager David Flitcroft ruled out dipping into the loan market to bolster his attacking options.

The ex-Crystal Palace and Stoke midfielder returned to match action from the bench against Rochdale last Friday following four games out to work on his fitness.

Despite limited resources going into tomorrow’s trip to play-off hopefuls Southend United, Flitcroft believes the re-energised former Premier League man could be the ace up his sleeve.

“I think a fully fit, fully charged and fully energetic Tom Soares is a good player in our team,” he said of the 27-year-old, who had fallen out of favour following Flitrcoft’s arrival at Bury.

“From the previous six months of him being at the football club, I don’t think he’s been turned into the machine he should be and that’s something that should be a given. A player should be as fit as he can be and ready to be called upon, no matter who the manager is.”

On-loan forward Anton Forrester limped off duirng Tuesday night’s 2-2 draw against Fleetwood Town with suspected knee ligament damage, while captain Craig Jones – Bury’s leading goalmaker – faces at least two weeks out with a hamstring problem.

But Shakers manager David Flitcroft says any search for replacement forwards with just two months of their League Two campaign remaining would be futile.

“We have looked high and low, but is someone going to let a goalscorer go at this stage of the season? No chance,” he said.

“Goalscorers, creative spark, magicians – if they are flying and if they are playing well then they are not coming to Bury, or going to Rochale or Chesterfield.

“You will get a defender or a midfield player, but a striker in form? You’re not getting one of them.

“So we have got to make sure we knuckle down with this group and keep staying unbeaten.”

Bury head to Roots Hall in comparatively good form to Phil Brown’s Southend.

While the Shakers go into the game on the back of just one defeat in their last nine league matches, their seventh-placed opponents have not won in 10.

Yet despite back-to-back draws against promotion contenders Fleetwood and Rochdale, Flitcroft’s side have dropped down to 19th place, four points above the drop zone.

But they are still only 10 points below a faltering Southend, with two games in hand, a fact that put the Bury boss in bullish mood.

“I watched them (Southend) against Morecambe,” said Flitcroft.

“We’ve got a gameplan that we have been working on and will try to put that in place down at Southend.

“We have taken on all the top teams and only one of them (Chesterfield) has beaten us, so we don’t fear anyone in this league.”