Getting knocked out the FA Trophy just over a week ago may be a blessing in disguise for Barrow AFC manager Ian Evatt, as it means they can now fully concentrate on their National League promotion push.

Potentially, just 13 games separate the Bluebirds from a return to the Football League for the first time since 1972, with the first of those coming at home to Dover Athletic tonight.

Barnet ended the dream of promotion-Trophy double by defeating AFC 3-0 in round three, but that should at least decrease the strain on what isn’t the biggest of squads to begin with in the first place.

In order to keep players fresh for the run-in, Evatt gave top goalscorers John Rooney and Scott Quigley the afternoon at The Hive, while key players Brad Barry, Josh Kay and Dior Angus were given some rest on the bench.

Evatt said: “Like many other National League teams, we can’t carry 25-30 players who are all on good money and we don’t have million-pound budgets, we just can’t do that.

“When it comes down to playing extra games in cup competitions, we get affected because we’ve got a small squad of probably 18 at the moment, with Matty Elsdon and Mark Waddington being out on loan.

“Then we’ve had injuries and niggles and some young players in that as well, so strictly speaking we’ve got about 15 or 16 who are up to the level of what we need to win this league now.

“That’s not a lot of players, so to get to where we’ve got in this league is fantastic and, as much as we’d like to, we can’t have it all ways.

“In an ideal world, I’d have been able to play a team that were in-form and fit and raring to go in the FA Trophy and we just couldn’t put the bigger picture at risk.”