MARK Collier believes the loss of striker David Pratt and his search for a replacement merely underlines the higher weight Chippenham Town have found themselves punching at this season.

Pratt, 30, was expected to complete a move to the Bluebirds’ National League South rivals Wealdstone this week, with Collier admitting his club were simply unable to match the financial muscle of the Stones’ bid for the frontman’s services.

The move had yet to be confirmed by Wealdstone as the Gazette & Herald went to press, but the loss of Pratt, a key member of the Southern League Premier Division title-winning side last season, would leave a sizeable hole in Collier’s attack.

Once Pratt’s desire to leave was clear, Chippenham chairman Neil Blackmore set about negotiating a fee for the player, who was under contract at Hardenhuish Park, and Collier admitted: “It’s just a reminder to everybody, the supporters at Chippenham Town, what kind of league we’re in now and what we’re up against.

“People need to recognise that fact. David Pratt has not gone for an extra £15. He’s gone for a substantial amount of money. He’s got a young family and that’s the situation.

“It’s the league we’re in and what we’ve got to try and compete with and make the best of what we can and that’s what we will do.

“I was only thinking that, when we were leaving the ground at Havant & Waterlooville (Saturday’s 4-0 defeat) where they have got full covers for the whole pitch with blowers underneath.

“We’re just walking away from a Championship (standard) ground. That’s what we’re up against but we’re pleased to be up against it. We’re fighting our corner and pleased to be doing so.’’

Former Cardiff City duo Curtis McDonald and Robbie Patten are on the verge of joining Town, pending their international clearance and Collier added: “I’ve got a few irons in the fire but the players we’re looking at now are on a contract at other clubs, which means we need to make an offer which is quite an elongated affair.

“It’s not a case of it happening tomorrow, or next week. We’re talking with several parties but we’re in quite a difficult situation. It’s one we need to get over.

“Getting a player in at this level isn’t just a question of putting seven days (of approach) in and getting him a week after. It doesn’t work that way.

“A lot of hard work goes on behind the scenes trying to get people in. We need to strengthen and we’re well on the case with decent contacts, but we haven’t got anyone over the line yet.’’

On the Welsh duo, he added: “It’s annoying because the players have signed but I’m hoping that (clearance) will happen this week.

“We’re going to have to regroup and go again. Players are coming and going and we need to get extra players in.

“They are training and we want to get them into the squad as soon as we possibly can and it will give us fresh impetus going into the second half of the season.’’

Town have no match on Saturday and Collier admitted: “I think (it) has come at a good time for us because we can sort things out and we’ve got a few walking wounded who have been out there in the last few weeks and we can get them recovered.’’