DAVID Flitcroft is expecting another physical encounter when Swindon Town make the return trip to Lincoln City this weekend.

Clear-cut chances were at a premium when the two sides previously met at the Energy Check County Ground back in October in a contest that saw defensive qualities to the fore instead, with the Imps eventually snatching a 1-0 win courtesy of Sean Raggett’s late header.

Town faced a similarly closely-fought affair in League Two on Tuesday night when they edged to a narrow 1-0 victory away at Stevenage.

Flitcroft felt that was the ideal preparation for his side’s trip to Sincil Bank on Saturday, where there is sure to be little to separate two teams who hold ambitions of promotion come the end of the season.

“They are a direct and robust team and that is what Danny (Cowley) has built and been successful with,” said Flitcroft.

“We know what we are in for, it is probably one of the toughest battles of the season and we will prepare the team for that and make sure they are ready for it.

“It was a man’s game down at Stevenage and Lincoln will be no different.

“There is a mental aspect to it, going to a ground where they have so much energy and enthusiasm for the team.

“That all conspires into the mental picture and we will pick a ground of players that can deal with that and that’s what we have planned for this week.

“The players have been ready all season for those battles. We have been in some scrapes and battles and come through quite a lot of them.

“Certainly away from home the mental courage of our team is the best in the league and I don’t see that changing.”

Other than the deadline day arrival of Rollin Menayese and departures of John Goddard and James Brophy, Town will have the same group of players available that took on Stevenage on Tuesday.

Donal McDermott’s recovery from injury has hit a setback, with Flitcroft revealing the wideman requires surgery to solve a hernia problem.

Left-back Chris Hussey’s comeback from surgery of his own after a groin injury has also slowed, although midfielder Amine Linganzi is progressing well following a thigh issue.

“It is a frustrating one for Donal. He had a hernia in the past and we didn’t think it was this time and we put him through quite a vigorous training programme, but he has found that he probably has got one,” said Flitcroft.

“There is going to be an op and then it could be two or maybe three weeks before he is back. We thought we were getting close but it is just taking longer than we anticipated.

“Amine is coming really good and he is driving on now, but we have had a couple of complications with Chris.

“It sometimes happens when you get an injury in one site, you are overcompensating and there is another slight problem in another area. We are trying to get to the bottom of it all and it is just slower than we all want.

“I am desperate to get him fit but we are just going to have to keep working with the medical team to get him on the pitch.”