STEVEN Schumacher has challenged the Shakers to “man up” as the going gets tough in League One.

After suffering back-to-back defeats for the first time since September, Richie Barker’s side now have three consecutive home games to stabilise their league form.

Following two energy-sapping trips to Exeter and Milton Keynes in the last six days, the small Gigg Lane squad is showing definite signs of wear and tear.

Phil Picken (thigh), Peter Sweeney (back) and Schumacher (groin) were all taken off in midweek as a precautionary measure, but the skipper reckons minor injuries are part and parcel of life at this stage of the campaign.

“You’ve got to keep going,” he said. “We haven’t got a massive squad so I don’t think anyone will be going into Saturday absolutely 100 per cent right.

“We’ve played such a number of games in a short period of time, it’s tough, and people are going to have to man up and get through it.

“We need the points in the next few home games.”

Barker has received a boost ahead of the weekend visit of Leyton Orient, with striker Andy Bishop now likely to return after an ankle problem.

Giles Coke’s red card in the 2-1 defeat at MK Dons means he will be unavailable, pointing to a likely recall for David Worrall against the Londoners. New loan signing Lateef Elford-Alliyu is also a strong candidate to start.

Even though Tuesday night’s 2-1 defeat made it five games without a win for the Shakers, Schumacher is far from despondent heading into the final third of the campaign.

He accepts, however, that with two sides around them in the table – Leyton Orient and Hartlepool United – and promotion-chasing Huddersfield Town to visit Gigg Lane in the next week or so, this could be a pivotal time for the club.

“A couple of little mistakes here and there are killing us at the minute – knock them on the head and the results will turn round for us,” he said.

“We’ve had some tough games. Exeter isn’t an easy place to go to, and MK Dons are looking to go up automatically, but this is the first time we’ve lost two in a row since September.

“We’re still positive because we’re not doing a lot wrong. Our performances have been okay and the fans will probably agree that we haven’t let ourselves down too often this season.”