JOE Riley’s arrival at Bury on Wednesday completed an overhaul of a defence that manager David Flitcroft believes now has the perfect balance.

The acid test of that theory will come tomorrow when League Two leaders Wycombe Wanderers visit the JD Stadium, with the ninth-placed Shakers looking to bridge a two-point gap to the play-off places.

Riley, aged 23, is expected to be thrown straight in at right-back alongside Charlton Athletic goalkeeper Nick Pope, who will be making his first start since signing on loan until the end of the season.

The two debutants will be backed up by the promising centre-back partnership of captain Nathan Cameron and Bristol City loanee Adam El-Abd, with rampaging full-back Chris Hussey on the left.

“After deciding to make the switch to four at the back I have just had to move things around,” said the Bury boss, who recently dropped his preferred 3-4-3 formation for 4-4-2.

“We haven’t had a recognised right-back since Phil Picken retired and I have had to put Nathan Cameron out there at times, so I think Joe’s signing gives the squad real balance now.

“He has shown he can play as a traditional full-back or a wing-back, with that drive to push forward when needed.

“It also means we can move Craig Jones further forward now to compete for a place on the wing.

“So I think we are in a good place now, with 22 games to go.

“We know we will have to win more games in the second half of the season than we did in the first – that is the challenge and we can’t wait to get started now against Wycombe.”

While Flitcroft was disappointed to lose last Friday’s game at Accrington to the weather, it has given his new signings time to bed in.

Both Riley and Pope, aged 22, have recent pedigree in League Two, with his new full-back playing 28 games on loan at Oxford earlier this season, while his Charlton stopper kept 16 clean sheets in 24 appearances for York last campaign.

“We have had a few problems this season with loan players coming in who weren’t match-ready, but Joe has plenty of games under his belt and played really well for the Bolton development squad against Newcastle earlier this week,” added Flitcroft.

“Nick also comes to us with a number of matches under his belt in the Championship this season, and arrives at the same stage of the campaign that he moved to York last year.

“If he can make a similar impact here then we will be happy.”

Flitcroft confirmed Pablo Mills, Keil O’Brien and Joe Thompson were still unavailable due to injury, but Danny Nardiello is pushing for a return after missing the last two games with a torn hamstring.