TOM Killick is hoping linchpin defender Michael Walker will soon be back in the trenches with Poole Town – but admits striker Luke Roberts is unlikely to feature in their survival mission.

Walker and Roberts have been sidelined by serious knee injuries all season with both going under the knife last year to repair damaged anterior cruciate ligaments.

The pair are at different stages with their respective rehabilitations and have been forced to take a watching brief as Poole have struggled without them in National South.

And while boss Killick anticipates possibly having Walker back in the next four to six weeks, he is almost resigned to Roberts' return coming too late for this season.

Former Dolphins skipper Walker sustained his injury during a 3-2 defeat at Concord Rangers in November 2016, while Roberts was struck down during a friendly at Weymouth in July.

Killick told the Daily Echo: "They both had the same operation but Michael is a bit further down the line and may be available in a month or so.

"He is an important player and person in terms of what he brings psychologically.

"He is a big character and the sort of person you need when you are in the situation we are in. He will be very good for us when we get him back.

"Luke is doing well and will hopefully get to the point where he could be fit to start playing around April.

"But by the time he gets up to speed in terms of match fitness, I don't see him figuring too much having been out so long.

"If he isn’t going to be ready, he may be better off taking his time and just making sure he is right for pre-season.

"It is a long process and it is probably just going to be a little too early to expect him to be back and firing and fully fit before the end of the season."

Meanwhile, Poole have agreed to release Tony Lee from his contract with the striker having returned to Southern League West outfit AFC Totton where he recently enjoyed a productive loan spell.

Killick added: "His game time with us had been restricted and, as a result, he went to Totton on loan.

"He did quite well there and they were keen to keep him.

"We just felt it would have been unfair to impose a return on him when his opportunities with us may be limited so it was better for everyone for him to get a permanent arrangement sorted out with Totton, which is what he has done.

"I am sure he will do well there. He wanted to play regularly but he may have been on the periphery of things with us so it probably suits him better."