Chester coach Jan Van Deventer says his injury-hit squad's proud defensive record has taken 'a battering' in recent weeks.

The Hare Lane club were routed 64-31 at Loughborough Students last weekend, the defeat following a pre-Christmas 53-12 home reverse to National League Two North leaders Caldy.

Faced with a lengthy injury list, Van Deventer has been forced to field many players in unfamiliar positions and says that consistency levels have dropped as a consequence.

He said: “Loughborough were very good last weekend. They were clinical and exposed us in couple of areas.

“It was another hugely disappointing result, particularly because our defensive work is something we pride ourselves on.

“That side of things has taken a bit of a battering recently. I won't use injuries as an excuse, but they have certainly started to hinder us now.

“It feels like we're down to the bare bones of the squad now and I think that showed on Saturday when we had three hookers and four scrum halves on the pitch all playing out of position.”

Chester host Leominster side Luctonians on Saturday, looking for a return to winning ways.

It was a solid defensive display in Herefordshire that earned Chester a 24-20 away win in September's reverse fixture.

And Van Deventer is keen to accentuate the positives ahead of the clash, saying: “It's not all doom and gloom.

“Taking out the results either side of Christmas, our performances have been pretty good in general.

“We still find ourselves seventh in the table with a game in hand on most of the teams above us.

“Hopefully we'll have a few more bodies back this week for the Luctonians game and we can put in a big performance at home.”

Mike Craven, Kyle Joseph Johnny Charmley and Tom Holloway all picked up injuries last weekend and are all fitness doubts.

Chester could welcome back key trio Guy Ford, Harry Wilkinson and Drew Cotterill for the clash though.