St Ives Town have been hit by pre-season injury problems.

Youngster Tiago Dias on the ball for St Ives against Soham. Picture: LOUISE THOMPSONYoungster Tiago Dias on the ball for St Ives against Soham. Picture: LOUISE THOMPSON

Central defender Lee Chaffey (knee) and midfielder Eugene Libertucci (thigh) have both picked up knocks ahead of the Southern League Premier Division campaign, which gets underway next month.

They took no part in Saints’ first summer friendly as lower-level Soham Town Rangers were beaten 3-1 at ProEdge Westwood Road last Friday night.

Summer signing Lewis Hilliard, returning wideman Phil Draycott and striker Dubi Ogbonna hit the goals in a game in which the contributions of several young players pleased manager Ricky Marheineke.

Four youngsters from the club’s football and education programme – defenders Jamie Short and Aaron Markham, and midfielders Patrick Polhos and Tiago Dias – all featured.

Jimmy Hartley (right) was one of the St Ives Town goalscorers against AFC Rushden & Diamonds. Picture: LOUISE THOMPSONJimmy Hartley (right) was one of the St Ives Town goalscorers against AFC Rushden & Diamonds. Picture: LOUISE THOMPSON

“We’re hoping Lee might be back this weekend, but Eugene may need a bit longer,” said Marheineke.

“We only have 16 senior players so we can’t really afford to pick up too many injuries, but we’ve got some promising players coming through the system and we will have no hesitation in calling upon them to come into the first-team squad if they are required.

“The four lads all acquitted themselves very well against a Step 4 side last Friday.”

Saints host a Peterborough United youth team tonight, 7.45pm, at ProEdge Westwood Road. They then go to AFC Rushden & Diamonds, the team they beat in the Southern League Division One Central play-off final of 2015/16 to win promotion, on Saturday before hosting Bedford on Tuesday.

Marheineke plans to run the rule over central defender Lewis Ferrell, who has been training with local rivals St Neots Town this summer, in those games.

Ferrell has played at National League South level in the past, but missed all of last season with a serious knee injury.

Goalkeeping prospect Tom Smith is to spend the season with Huntingdon Town in Division One of the United Counties League, but he will also be dual-signed with Saints to back-up Tim Trebes.