Barrow AFC manager Mark Cooper is facing more injury headaches this weekend – but has challenged other players to step up.

The Bluebirds boss is today assessing his squad ahead of the trip to Newport County.

There are question marks over a number of players as Barrow prepare for the south Wales clash.

But boss Cooper insists those who come in must take their change.

“We’re training later this afternoon, and we’ll have a count up,” Cooper said this morning.

“We’ve got problems as we have had all season.

“We had Anthony Glennon and Robbie Gotts missing the other night [the 2-0 defeat to Salford City], and Jordan Stevens came off with an injury.

“Ollie Banks also twisted his knee. We could have a few out. But the boys that come in have got to step up.

“We’ve got Tom Beadling back [from suspension] and we’ve got players on the periphery that have now got to say, ‘If I get my chance, I’ve got to take it’.

“And boys coming off the bench for 20-25 minutes, they’ve got to take their opportunity. They’ve got to make sure they affect my thinking for the team selection.”

Barrow remain seven points clear of the relegation zone but back-to-back home defeats have cost them the chance to put further distance between themselves and fellow strugglers.

They will now hope to improve their fortunes with consecutive away trips to high-fliers in the form of Newport and, next Tuesday, Northampton Town.

One player back to availability is defender Kgosi Ntlhe, who returned to the side for the Salford game.

“He did fine,” Cooper said. “He’s worked hard to get himself back; he had a nasty little knee injury which are not nice.

“That will do his confidence good to get that hour-70 minutes under his belt.”

Cooper, meanwhile, has spoken about the decision to allow defender Mark Ellis to join Solihull Moors on loan.

The experienced centre-half has dropped down to the National League, where he made his debut in a 2-0 win at Torquay on Tuesday.

“You get a sense when some players need to go out and play some games because they’re getting increasingly frustrated about not being in the team, and that can sometimes affect the group,” Cooper said.

“He [Ellis] needed to play, to keep his match fitness up. We have call-back after 28 days, so in another three-and-a-half weeks we can call him back if we’re struggling.”

Asked if he would consider replacing Ellis with a signing, Cooper – who also saw loanee Festus Arthur leave recently – said: “I’ve got confidence in the defenders we’ve got.

“Until the last two games we’ve got a really good defensive record.”