Sutton United have been dealt a major blow ahead of their National League game against Gateshead this Saturday with the news that influential skipper Jamie Collins broke his nose in training this week.

Collins, who had been playing with his left wrist in a cast after breaking it in the 2-1 win over Macclesfield, caught a stray elbow and is expected to be out of action for four to six weeks.

Along with Dean Beckwith and Simon Downer, Collins is now the third central defender Sutton have ruled out, as well as strikers Ross Lafayette and Adam Coombes.

“To lose three of our four centre-halves is massive for us,” said United manager Paul Doswell.

“Jamie was advised not to play by the surgeon who looked at his wrist but he did, and he’s been great for us, now this happens.

“We’re going to have to assess other options. We’ve got Simon Walton and Nicky Bailey who can both play centre-half.

“We’ve also got Louis John, he’s been brilliant this season and really matured as a player. With injury comes opportunity and this could be a good chance for Louis.”

United have another option in Jordan Bentley, an 18 year old centre-half signed on a three month loan from League One side Plymouth Argyle last week, but Doswell admitted this might not be the ideal time to blood the highly-regarded youngster.

“Jordan has only been with us for one or two training sessions so far,” said the Sutton boss.

“It might be a bit too soon to throw him in, so I’d certainly like to take a better look at him first.”

Aside from defences issues, Doswell is rueing injuries to two of his strikers was full of praise for those who have come into the side and taken their chances.

“Losing Lafayette and Coombes are huge blows in themselves. Ross has really unsettled defences in the games he’s played so far and he’s a great target man.

“Coombes is back in light training but these things take time.

“Craig Dundas has stepped up and been brilliant for us. He’s already played as many games for us this season than he did in the whole of last season.

“Tommy Wright has been a revelation. He seems to make the step up from level to level effortlessly.”

To help bolster the frontline during the injury crisis, United have brought in young striker Kwame Thomas on a month’s loan from League Two side Coventry City. 

Thomas, who will turn 22 during his loan spell, has also played for Notts County and Blackpool and has represented England at Under 16, Under 17 and Under 20 level.

The U’s suffered a 2-0 home defeat to Maidenhead on their last outing but Doswell had no complaints about the outcome.

“They are very direct, very physical and they won the physical battle and were the better side,” said a pragmatic Doswell.

“We worked hard all week on defending the long balls we knew they’d throw forward — and the game would have been a 0-0 — but we didn’t pick up from a set piece and they got the all- important first goal.

“It’s not often I feel that we don’t compete but that was the case. I think we could have been out there all day without scoring. We just didn’t look ourselves.”

The Maidenhead defeat knocked the U’s off the summit of the National League but Doswell has an answer for those looking for an immediate response from the U’s when they take on Gateshead and Dagenham and Redbridge this week.

“It’s going to be tough. Gateshead are a side you’d expect to be in the play-offs at the end of the season and Dagenham are top of the table at the moment and they want to win the league.

“Those outside the camp might be expecting a response but they don’t know the extent of the injuries we have.

“If someone said to me that we’d have 15 points on the board after eight games, I’d be delighted.

"To do it with so many key players out shows how brilliant the whole squad has been. This is a tough division and they’ve been excellent.”

Sutton United v Gateshead, Knights Community Stadium, Gander Green Lane, Sutton, Surrey, SM1 2EY, 3pm. Ticket details from