Fleetwood youth on standby as big freeze threatens clash

Steven Pressley

Steven Pressley

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Fleetwood boss Steven Pressley believes the club’s development ranks could provide emergency cover for his paper thin squad as this afternoon’s away trip to Rochdale hangs in the balance.

Fleetwood are once again down to the bare bones with fresh concerns ahead of this afternoon’s planned visit to Spotland.

With as many as four first team players doubtful Pressley might well have welcomed the news the League One clash is in doubt.

Frost on Thursday night left the pitch in questionable condition and an inspection will be carried out by Bolton-based referee Darren Handley at 11am today to determine whether the game will go ahead.

Should Fleetwood travel they will be without David Ball (hamstring) and David Henen (ankle) and may also miss Nathan Pond who has a groin problem and fellow defender Amari’i Bell who missed training this week through illness.

With Jamille Matt back from his loan spell with Stevenage Pressley will be able to name a full bench, even if it means turning to the development ranks.

“It’s not a problem,” he said.

“We have Jamille (Matt) who has returned.

“But there’s no doubt we are thin on the ground and there’s an urgency to get people in.

“We also have some young players I could turn to who have impressed me since I’ve come to the club.

“They’ll be considered should the need arise.

“I’ve always been one to push young players and I’ll continue to do so.

“But for the short term we have to think about the importance of maintaining our League status and to do that I think we need three or four new players in.”

Pressley has made a name for himself as a manager willing to give youth a chance.

And he’s keeping a close eye on Town’s under-21 ranks which are overseen by Barry Nicholson.

“They train with us regularly,” said Pressley.

“The development group train alongside the first team group two or three times a week.

“I like to integrate both groups because I think it helps progress the young players.

“It’s a big thing with what I want to do here.

“I’ve seen a lot of them and a few have really impressed me.”

Should the game go ahead Pressley will be looking to build on Fleetwood’s improved away performances over the last two months.

Town haven’t lost away from Highbury since the end of November but are yet to turn draws into wins.

With Dale’s form patchy and boss Keith Hill talking of a ‘disconnect’ with the Spotland crowd, the Fleetwood boss has spotted an opportunity.

He said: “If there is a bit of a disconnect we have to exploit that. We have to start the game with real intent.

“We have to put into practice everything we work towards and we have to make sure we come back with a win.

“We have to win these sorts of games.

“That’s the mentality I want, I don’t want us to go to Rochdale and settle for a draw.”

Pressley has made it clear Town need to start picking up results on the road if they are to pull themselves clear of the League One drop zone.

A record of only two victories away from Highbury this season requires improvement, Pressley making it clear an away draw is ‘simply no good’.

“There’s no doubt we have to win,” said the Fleetwood manager.

“The problem in the league is with so many games too many draws can hurt you.

“Draws on the road can be considered good results but I don’t think they’re enough.

“We have to win games and I demand that.

“A draw’s not enough. We’re better than that.”

Town face a packed January schedule with a trip to Colchester looming on Tuesday.

Next Saturday’s home clash with Doncaster is followed by a Tuesday night game against Walsall - rearranged after a December washout.

There may be respite should Bradford win their FA Cup replay against Bury on Tuesday – Town are scheduled at Valley Parade on fourth round day