THERE is no better way to find out about your players than a Lancashire derby.

And I think tomorrow night’s trip to Accrington will provide a real barometer of just what Bury need to do to get back into the promotion frame.

They are, of course, only a point outside the play-offs, despite last weekend’s defeat at Dagenham and Redbridge, so a victory would see the Shakers climb back into the top seven, for 24 hours at least.

But John Coleman’s side have play-off aspirations of their own, and with the way his outfit like to get the ball forward I can see the Bury defence being given a stern examination.

It looks as if they will go into the game possibly with a new goalkeeper in their starting line-up.

Judging from Nick Pope’s performances on loan at York last season, the 22-year-old has real pedigree at this level.

That is just what Bury need in a loan signing right now – players who are tried and tested in League Two.

I said previously that I don’t think the squad needs major surgery in this transfer window, I think once the manager is able to pick a settled starting line-up then the results will come.

But football being football, you can’t always predict the outcome.

After a good festive period, you would not have seen Bury losing at Dagenham, but by all accounts the performance was good, they just did not get the result.

While I don’t believe a lot of tinkering is necessary, the side may benefit, on the road at least, from a bit more bite in midfield.

Flicker has moved to add steel to his defence, replacing former captain Jim McNulty with the signing of Adam El-Abd, and I think his arrival has had the desired effect.

In a similar way, I think Kelvin Etuhu still has to prove he is the answer in the centre of the park.

He has been asked to play a holding role, alongside Andrew Tutte, who is starting to come to the boil as a real box-to-box midfielder, but I don’t think players in that position should be pigeon-holed.

When I played alongside Phil Parkinson for Bury, he was the more defensive-minded midfielder and I was more attacking, but we could dovetail it nicely.

Sometimes he would bomb on and I would stay back. That way the opposition were kept guessing.

At the moment Bury don’t really have that. Sides know they only have to track Tutte.

They are also lacking that motivator in midfield, who can keep his team-mates in check and lead by example with a crunching tackle or two.

If they can add that to the mix then maybe their results away from home will become more consistent.