Barrow AFC manager Ian Evatt is delighted with the form Joel Dixon has shown since he forced his way back into the side just over two months ago.

Dixon, who is in his fourth season with the Bluebirds, has put his injury problems of previous years behind him with a serious of assured displays that have coincided with his side’s defensive record improving.

The 26-year-old missed most of the 2016/17 campaign with anterior cruciate ligament damage before losing his place to Steve Arnold under former boss Ady Pennock this time last year.

He was then forced to miss the start of the current season after undergoing knee surgery, but has played in every league game since replacing Andy Firth in the side at Ebbsfleet United in November.

Last Saturday, Dixon was the busier ‘keeper in the 0-0 draw against FC Halifax Town and was assured in the way he patrolled his penalty area in what was his 100th appearance for AFC.

Evatt said: “I’m pleased for Joel, he’s been excellent. He had to fight for his place in the team and wait patiently.

“He’s done that and since he has come in, he has been excellent. It’s great that he’s got to 100 games and it’s great that he has kept another clean sheet.”

Evatt also gave a debut to his former Chesterfield teammate Sam Hird against Halifax, as he replaced captain Josh Granite as a substitute early in the second half.

The 31-year-old defender is currently working himself back to full fitness after having trouble with the cartilage in his knee during his time with previous club Alfreton Town, but his first impression suggested he will be a calming influence at the back.

Evatt said: “He’s a very good player, although he’s probably not quite at where I’d like him to be, at the moment, but he’ll get there from playing games.

“His calmness in possession is important for us, with the way we’re trying to play.

“He looked a bit rusty at times, but that will soon go because Sam is a quality player at this level.”

On Hird’s fellow new boy Dior Angus, Evatt added: “He’s got blistering pace and lots of qualities, but we need just to work hard on the pitch [with him] and keep improving.

“We’ll just keep moving forward and keep our heads down.”