SEDGLEY Park’s former captain Chris Wilkinson believes the Christmas break could not have come at a better time.

The Tigers slumped to a 22-8 home defeat to rivals Macclesfield on Saturday but were missing several key players.

Captain Garth Dew is out for up to three months after tearing his ligaments against Barking a fortnight ago, and full-back Richard Wainwright is out with a hamstring problem. Fraley Hopa is also currently suffering with a head injury.

The players have been given a break from training ahead of their next game at Coventry on January 7 and Wilkinson, who passed on the captaincy to Dew earlier this season, says they are relishing the time off.

“We really need this break,” he said. “We’ve suffered badly with injuries and we’ve played 16 games on the bounce. We need to be fit before the Coventry match.”

The Tigers hoped to end the year on a high but an in-form Macclesfield were difficult to break down.

Two Ross Winney penalties put the away side 6-0 up before a Greg Smith penalty halved the deficit. The Tigers then went ahead when Jamie Harrison stretched out a hand to score a try.

The lead was short-lived though as Winney scored his third penalty, giving Macclesfield a slender one-point advantage at half-time.

Macclesfield’s Tom Davenport then saw his try converted after the break and the Tigers were on the back foot from then on, gifting the visitors numerous penalties with which to extend their lead.

Wilkinson said: “We played well in the first half but, in the second half, we played to their strengths. Macclesfield play a boring but effective game and they were strong going forward.”

Despite the defeat, the scrum-half remains optimistic.

“There are positives we can take from the game,” he said. “The youngsters are being given a chance and the likes of Lewis McGowan, Richard Oxley and Matthew Riley have been playing really well.”

The Tigers are currently mid-table in the National League One and will be looking to maintain their position in the New Year.

Wilkinson added: “We feel 50 per cent of our remaining fixtures are winnable. Consistency has always been our downfall but we’re looking to finish well. What we don’t want is a relegation scrap like last year.”