LUCA Connell is likely to miss the season-opener against Port Vale tomorrow, with Conor McCarthy, Robbie Cundy and Josh Benson getting closer to a return.

Connell has missed the last two friendlies through illness. He could be replaced in midfield tomorrow by Jon Russell.

Head coach Neill Collins told the Chronicle: “There is always potential but he hasn’t played a pre-season game since Hull (July 18).

“It will probably be difficult at this point. We hope he will be training soon.

“He is a huge personality in the squad and a real driving force.

“We want him back but the most important thing is his health.”

Centre-back McCarthy is back in full training after missing almost a year with a serious knee problem, but is not in contention to play yet. Collins said: “Conor has trained fantastically well.

“We would like to have him involved but he’s only just been cleared to play.

In Text Promo Image

“We’ll hopefully get him some minutes in under 21s games in the next week or two.”

Robbie Cundy has missed much of pre-season with a muscle problem.

Collins said: “Robbie is coming back to full fitness and we should expect to see him back in training in the near future. But he won’t impact the first team squad right now.”

Josh Benson will miss the opening weeks of the season after having surgery on an ankle injury picked up in the play-off final.

Collins said: “He is getting very close. He’s done a fantastic job, working very hard and it’s great to see him back on the grass. But he is still coming back from the injury.”

Adam Phillips is suspended for the first three games in all competitions after being sent off in the play-off final in May.

He could be replaced by Callum Styles.

“We have got to put 11 players out and we don’t have too many to pick from.

“Callum is a fantastic person to have in the team. If Adam could play there is nothing to say they both wouldn’t play. But certainly losing someone like Adam Phillips for the first three games then having someone with the quality of Callum Styles is very good.

“I am really enjoying watching Callum play, he’s the kind of player who will get the fans off their seats.”