Boss Simon Weaver has hailed Dave McGurk’s “truly inspirational” part in securing Harrogate Town’s best defensive run under his leadership – even likening the defender to legendary centre-back Paul McGrath.
McGurk has put in a number of dominant displays alongside club captain Danny Ellis, despite struggling with injuries in his knee and back.
The former York City stalwart has been relying on pain-relieving injections to cope with the trouble this season and can only train with the Town squad for 40 minutes each week.
However, Weaver hailed his performance in Saturday’s goalless shut-out against Gloucester City as one of the best he had seen in the semi-professional game.
Weaver, a centre back himself, said: "Dave’s play at centre back was right up there with the best I have seen at this level. His timing of tackling and heading was phenomenal.
"He can only train for 40 minutes on 3G during the week and can’t sleep after games and he struggles to sleep after training. That shows what a man he is. He is a winner not to expose that lack of training.
"He has come in for Luke Shiels and the way he has steadied the ship has been truly inspirational.
"Everyone respects him that much there’s no grumbling about him not training. He is like Paul McGrath used to be for Aston Villa and Northern Ireland."
Saturday’s clean sheet was Town’s fourth in a row, resulting in their best run since February 2008.
Stockport County striker Richard Brodie was the last to breach the Town defence more than 400 competitive minutes ago. That run will be severely tested at the weekend when Town visit promotion rivals Nuneaton Town, who beat them 3-0 at the CNG Stadium earlier this season.
Former Premier League player Marlon Harewood, 37, was on target that afternoon and will spearhead the Boro attack again on Saturday.
"We don’t want the same result and we want a better performance," added Weaver.
"We weren’t ruthless enough and it became our first steep learning curve. But we have analysed that game and everyone took it on board. The lads bounced back, and that’s why we are where we are."
Nuneaton are four points behind Weaver’s troops in National League North and shared a 1-1 draw with fellow play-off hopefuls AFC Fylde on Tuesday.
Warren Burrell is suspended for Saturday’s fixture, while Dominic Knowles is closing in on a return to fitness.
However, with Knowles’ long-term fitness still uncertain, Weaver admitted he might be tempted to add an extra striker to his ranks before the transfer window shuts later this month.
Following Saturday’s trip to Nuneaton, Town’s crunch week continues with a trip to seventh-placed Tamworth on Tuesday evening.
Meanwhile, league leaders Solihull Moors bounced back from a loss on Saturday to defeat Curzon Ashton in midweek and stretched the gap at the top to six points.