EVESHAM United boss Carl Abbott expressed “sympathy” over the “unfortunate situation” that saw Reece Francis sent to Coventry – but argued it had been of the goalkeeper’s own making.

Francis, a summer signing from Redditch United, went on holiday after playing Evesham’s opener against Paulton Rovers and has since been unable to dislodge stand-in Lochie Robertson, in on work experience from Bristol City.

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Without the need for a formal loan, Robertson’s short-term stint has now been extended to an “indefinite” period.

Francis impressed in Wednesday’s penalty shootout success against Daventry Town in the Southern League Cup but has linked up with Midland Football League outfit Coventry United for now with Abbott keen to stick with Robertson. 

“I wanted to get a game into Reece and he was faultless. His talking, kicking and handling were spot on and he made some great saves,” said Abbott.

“Then he was the hero in the penalty shootout and I was really pleased for him but it does present us with a difficult situation, one of Reece’s own making.

“He was our number one, we didn’t have another keeper at the club and I was happy with that. Then he went on holiday during the season which as a goalkeeper at this level you just cannot do.

“Whether he is with me or another manager that can’t happen again.

“We did all we could to get cover for just the games he would miss but were unable to and ended up with Lochie for a set period. He has been a revelation so Reece now finds himself in an unfortunate situation.

“It was short-term to begin with but is now indefinite and Bristol City are very happy with the arrangement.

“There is talk of another lad coming in as well so we are striking up a good relationship. Financially it is good for the club, he is being paid by Bristol City but again, it is unfortunate for Reece.

“I do have enormous sympathy but we have to do what is right by the club. Lochie has given us no reason to revert back.”

The Robins welcome Winchester City in Southern League Division One South tomorrow (3pm) chasing a fourth league match without defeat. 

Ryan Paddock and Brian Smikle come back into contention as part of what Abbott anticipates being a fully fit squad.