PLAYER-coach Mat Birley and defender Jamie Smith come back into contention for Worcester City after picking up the pace in training this week.

Assistant manager Ashley Vincent revealed how the duo had helped to instigate a sprightly session on Tuesday ahead of City’s FA Vase first-round tie at home to Long Eaton United tomorrow (3pm).

Birley has been out for the past three weeks due to a recurring calf strain while Smith sat out the 0-0 draw at South Normanton Athletic last weekend having felt unwell in the build-up.

But with a workout under their belts, John Snape’s right-hand man hopes both will be fit to take the first step on City's road to Wembley.

“Birls trained on Tuesday and was fantastic, he looked very sharp,” said Vincent.

“The past couple of performances have seen us hit a bit of a dip but when we got together this week he really picked us up.

“He got on the ball and dictated the tempo of the session. In part, the way we trained was down to Birls and we hope he has no adverse reaction and will be fit and ready to go against Long Eaton.

“Jamie missed out last weekend after feeling a bit funny following training the previous Thursday.

“His doctor advised him to sit out South Normanton but he has trained this week and like Birls, looked like he had missed being out there. We hope he will be ready to go as well.”

Striker Nick Turton also took part in his first full session since injuring his knee during pre-season but the weekend may come too soon for a return to action.

“Nick did the whole session and looked back to his old self, joking around with the boys and that was good to see,” added Vincent.

“Now it is a case of looking at him again, seeing how he feels with his knee and his fitness because he has been out for a long time.

“Nick is an experienced player and I am sure he will be knocking our door as soon as he feels about right and we will certainly welcome that.”

Defender Andy Gallinagh remains “at least a couple of weeks away” with knee ligament damage with Vincent advocating a cautious approach.

Drew Ricketts, the centre-half City ran the rule over in the 3-1 MFL Cup triumph at FC Startford last month, has left the club.

“As much as he is a great lad who performed well on the night, we didn’t feel he would improve on what we had in the long term,” said Vincent.

“If you’re going to bring in players, they have to enhance what you have.”