THE Christmas break hasn’t helped Swindon College Old Boys’ casualty list clear up at all. In fact, the injury count has got worse.

Old Boys, who go into tomorrow’s Southern Counties North clash with Stow-on-the-Wold still searching for their first league victory of the season, already had several key absences prior to a fortnight without a game over the festive period.

But now the club have been hit by the news the versatile Tom Birnie is to miss six to seven weeks of action after breaking his hand in Old Boys’ final outing before Christmas – the 16-10 home defeat to Drifters.

For chairman Martin Peaple, the latest blow sums up Old Boys’ season. He said: “The injuries we’ve got are mostly long-term things and people aren’t going to be back until the end of this season. They’re mostly scan or operation jobs.

“Matt McKee is back but needs to get back to match fitness, Stu Knight is waiting for an MRI scan on his shoulder, Tom Birnie has broken his hand. Nothing has come back over the holiday period. A lot of it is going to be end of this season, start of next season.”

The new year presents a daunting task for Old Boys, who sit rock bottom of the league table and are favourites to be relegated in April.

Peaple is already planning for the 2014/15 campaign, saying: “We’re still in a hard position at the moment.

“It’s still a hard half a season ahead and it’s the same as we’ve been – keep the club spirit going, keep the lads’ morale up and try to grab a few bonus points here and there.

“If that elusive win comes sometime this year all the better but I think we need to start making plans for the end of this season and next season and start looking forward to that.

“We’ve had a good go at Southern Counties this year, unfortunately it’s not panned out as we might have liked with all the injuries we’ve had. We need to regroup and get a bit more strength in depth.”

Elsewhere, Swindon return to action in South West 1 East with a home clash against Marlow.

The Greenbridge Road side will be looking to bounce back from the 40-5 mauling they suffered at the hands of Maidenhead in their previous outing before Christmas.