IF anyone can inspire promotion-hungry Eastleigh to a priceless home win over Gateshead on Saturday (3pm) it’s their ‘head boy’ Paul McCallum.

The Spitfires’ National League play-off flame has been dimmed – though not extinguished – by three successive defeats, but it’s not for want of trying by their 25-goal top scorer who has netted three in the last two games.

McCallum's two midweek headers at his former club Leyton Orient should have been enough to bank the Spitfires all three points.

But, for the second time in four days, they surrendered a winning position to lose a Brisbane Road thriller 3-2, following on from a 4-2 loss at AFC Fylde.

McCallum’s aerial threat won’t have gone unnoticed by Orient fans. With four games to go, he is just one goal behind AFC Fylde’s Danny Rowe in the race for the golden boot.

Boss Ben Strevens said: “That’s 25 goals for Macca and 19 of them have been headers.

“Credit to him. Last year was tough for him for a number of reasons, but Hess (former boss Andy Hessenthaler) and I have been consistent in saying that as long as he gets the right service he’ll score goals.

“I spoke to a couple Orient fans before the game and they said there were question marks over Paul’s attitude and that he was always injured.

“But I said ‘listen, there’s no attitude problem. He’s a lovely lad. He’s quite laid-back so people might think he doesn’t care – but he does care.’

“I agreed about the injuries, but I don’t worry about Macca. He hasn’t trained again today, but his injuries are ongoing and he’s still playing and scoring goals.

“Orient fans will have seen on Tuesday what a good player he is. In centre-forward play, as a targetman, he’s the best there is.

“I know I would say that because I’m his manager, but Danny Rowe is a different sort of player. Of his type, Macca’s the best in the league.”

McCallum wasn’t alone in sitting out training today. Defender Alex Wynter, who missed Tuesday with a groin problem, remains doubtful for Saturday, as does play-maker Mark Yeates who felt his sore shoulder going on as a late substitute against the Os.

“I think the majority of fans would say we need to do some defensive work in training because of the goals we’ve conceded, but Wynts hasn’t trained today and neither have Reda Johnson, Michael Green, Josh Hare or Andrew Boyce,” said Strevens.

“I’m pretty sure Josh, Greener and Reda will train tomorrow and Boycey, who’s had a sickness bug, will hopefully be fine.

“We’ve done nothing different in terms of shape, which can sometimes be an indication of why you’re conceding goals but, in fairness to the teams we’ve played in the last two games, they’ve got good attacking players and play in a certain way and create chances.

“Tuesday was two good teams going head to head with us wanting to cement our play-off place and Orient wanting to go back to the top of the league.

“I was honestly gutted to lose a cracking game of football, but credit to Orient because they had to play well to beat us.

“I know you don’t win the league on support and I’ve got just as much respect for Solihull and Salford, but Orient are a Football League club. If they go up automatically hopefully it’ll be us going up with them through the play-offs.”

Despite their recent slide, Eastleigh still occupy the final play-off berth on 67 points, ahead of Ebbsfleet (66), Sutton (64) and Saturday's visitors Gateshead (63).

“I don’t want the lads getting downhearted, they’ve played well in the last two games. But it’s a results-based business and I want them to bounce back,” said the boss.

“As long as we win our games, we won’t have to worry about what’s going on behind us.”

Skipper Danny Hollands sits out the last of a three-match ban against slip-sliding Gateshead who have picked up just one point from the last 15.

Their manager Ben Clark has labelled Saturday's game their 'biggest of the season so far' as they look to revive their flagging play-off hopes.