CAPTAIN Chris Smith is expected to be fit for Worcester City's trip to Burscough on Saturday (3pm).

The central defender, skipper in the first match of the season against Hyde, was forced to sit out Monday's 4-2 victory at Hinckley with hamstring and ankle injuries.

Manager Andy Preece sees Smith as vital to his team's chances and was not prepared to jeopardise his participation in future games by rushing him back.

However, fellow defender Shabir Khan is unlikely to feature as he continues to step up his work following an ankle injury.

It was hoped Shabir, who limped off in the pre-season match against Yeovil and has not played since, would be fit enough to face Burscough but Preece is treading carefully.

Graham Ward should get the green light to play in the Blue Square North clash, however, despite picking up an ankle knock against Hinckley.

The City manager said: "The target for Shabir was for this Saturday. We just want to make sure he's fit but we don't want to rush him for the sake of one game.

"Everything has settled down with Chris Smith and hopefully he will be fit."

City make the journey to Victoria Park, for the first meeting between the two sides, looking to build on Monday's success.

Yet Preece is wary of the threat posed by the league newcomers, promoted as champions of the Unibond Premier Division, despite defeats at Tamworth (4-2) and at home to Stalybridge Celtic (2-0).

He said: "I went there on Tuesday to watch them against Stalybridge. They lost 2-0 but they are more than a useful team.

"They have loads of energy and never give up on the game - their strikers are really lively. Although they haven't had a great start in terms of results they have played Tamworth and Stalybridge who are two of the favourites to go up.

"It will be a tough place to go. It's only a little ground but the surface is really good.

"We need to pick up as many points as we can and if we are in the top half of the table after 10 games we will have had a good start.

"It was a good result against Hinckley and that will give the lads a lot of confidence."

Burscough, FA Trophy winners in 2003 with victory against a Nick Colley-captained Tamworth, are waiting on the fitness of keeper Tony McMillan.

McMillan was forced out of the Stalybridge defeat with an eye injury and Zak Hibbert is on stand-by.

Captain Chris Price was sent off in the fixture but his suspension does not kick in until August 28.