RICHIE Wellens insists all Swindon Town fans have reason to be encouraged by the squad he has at his disposal, despite Saturday’s 2-1 defeat to Bradford City.

Town were outfought and outshot at the Northern Commercials Stadium as Gary Bowyer’s side leapfrogged Swindon into fifth place courtesy of impact substitute Shay McCartan’s 79th minute effort.

Defeat was Town’s third in their last four League Two matches, but they still sit just four points shy of table topping Forest Green.

It could be argued that Wellens’ men have three times missed golden opportunities to perch themselves at the top of the tier four tree.

But the 39-year-old manager insists injuries and suspensions have hit his squad hard over the last six weeks.

He added: “I don’t like making excuses, but we are four points off the top of the league having lost Jordan (Lyden) for a month.

“We’ve lost Dion Conroy, Mathieu Baudry has been out for a month too, Jerry Yates has been suspended, Michael Doughty has been suspended for three games too.

“Zeki Fryers has missed a month, Dan Ballard we’ve lost – Northampton scored after a horrendous decision. I think we’re in an alright position considering.

“I’m hoping throughout the season these moments even themselves out. Keshi (Anderson) has missed a few games too.

“We have suffered, now we want to respond in the right way.

“When things are going swimmingly, injuries and suspensions always kick you in the face.”

Jerry Yates’ 74th minute strike – Town’s only shot on target of the game – appeared to have rescued an unlikely point in Yorkshire five minutes after Hope Akpan netted City’s opener.

Considering the hosts’ lengthy periods of domination, it was no great surprise that McCartan found a way past McCormick’s reach with 11 minutes of play remaining.

Having lost his winning formula established at the start of September, Wellens revealed after full time on Saturday that shirts are now up for grabs if fringe players show the commitment and dedication required.

He added: “The last 10 days, players out of the team have though ‘am I going to get in?’

“Everyone has a chance of playing, and I want everyone to be competing and training. I want them to play like their life depends on it.

“I don’t want players to give the shirt back up.”