First team coach John Doolan believes that Stanley can use this free weekend to their advantage and be ready for the tough Christmas schedule ahead.

With many of their League Two promotion rivals in FA Cup action this weekend, the Reds have a 10-day gap between last Saturday’s trip to Exeter and Tuesday’s clash with Lincoln in the Checkatrade Trophy.

Doolan admits the Exeter defeat was a tough one, but insists it’s been business as usual at the Wham Stadium this week.

“It was a difficult result to take,” he said. “We had a chat with the lads after the game because we feel that they let themselves down, certainly they did in the first half.

“They have set their standards high this season, you can see that in the results and where we sit in the table.

“It’s been important this week to look at the positives, we have put ourselves in an unbelievable position as we head into a December period when the games will start to come thick and fast.

“Nobody wants to be out of the FA Cup but it’s important that we use this extra time to get ourselves ready to go again.”

The 49-year-old, who joined the coaching staff in the summer, has coached at Liverpool and Everton’s Academy, Wigan Athletic, Hibernian and Rotherham.

He also played for Stanley under John Coleman and Jimmy Bell in 1999/2000, winning the UniBond First Division title, and says he is loving his second spell at the club.

“It’s a pleasure to come in every day to work with the lads,” said Doolan. “They are a good group that we have and they get on with their job in a professional manner.

“It’s well documented we face difficult circumstances with the training situation, one minute we’ll be on grass and the next on astro, but we crack on it with and the lads train well and do everything we ask of them.

“That makes it all the more amazing for us to sit where we do in the league, we are punching above our weight massively on that front, hopefully one day we will have the facilities that the players deserve.”

Doolan confirmed that captain Seamus Conneely (groin) and Erico Sousa (ankle) are facing another couple of weeks out, while Mekhi McLeod is set to miss Tuesday’s game with the injury that forced him off on Saturday.