Fleetwood boss Graham Alexander insists young guns Ash Hunter, Nick Haughton and Tyler Forbes still have parts to play, despite not featuring in either of Town’s opening fixtures.
Haughton’s absence has baffled some fans after the young midfielder made a name for himself in League One last term.
He couldn’t make the bench for Tuesday’s Capital one Cup defeat by Hartlepool, though Haughton, Forbes and Hunter all featured in a behind-closed-doors game for Town’s development squad yesterday, when Queen of the South visited Fleetwood’s Poolfoot training ground.
Alexander made it clear the young hopefuls are still in his thoughts, though he says they must prove to him they have earned their chance.
“We will use these players,” he told The Gazette. “They will be in the first team this season.
“They are on the photo but they are players who have played 10 or 11 games.
“They aren’t going to improve by sitting on the bench and not training fully.
“They’ll be improved by being around the first team, in the first team and having full-blooded sessions.
“I explained that to them as individuals.
“I explained it to senior players last year when we got them in development squad.
“There will be times when you play in those games because you need match fitness.
“You can’t go three or four months without a game and be ready.”
Former Squires Gate forward Jack Sowerby and midfielder Keano Deacon were unused substitutes against Pools – a sign Alexander sees no boundary between the development group, run by Barry Nicholson, and his own squad.
“We don’t have a barrier between the first team, the development team or the youth team,” he said. “I don’t see it like that.
“We want interchanging of players within the groups. They won’t see it as a demotion.
“I said to Ash Hunter that he was going to do pre-season with the development squad because if he was with us he would play limited minutes.
“If he’s with the development squad, he’ll play four of five full games and be ready to play.”
Alexander did hint that some of the club’s younger players may have come catching up to do after their first summer as first -team professionals.
He explained: “Some of them were not up to speed, where we expected them to be. I sat them down one on one. That’s how I have to be.
“If I want an easy life, and let them mosey along and not be in the first team, I’m doing a disservice to them.
“If they’re not in the first team, they’re not out of my sight.
“I talk to Barry Nicholson, I get the stats on training and I watch the games.
Alexander made it clear nobody could expect to walk into the starting 11 at Highbury, despite the loss of a number of senior stars over the summer.]
He said: “They are still a part of what we want to do here, but they have to know that even though we’ve got a younger squad they still have to keep the same standards.
“That’s the important thing to remember. We have let a lot of seniors to go but the standard is still high.
“There’s no walk into the first team. It’s still tough to get into .
“You still have to do all the right things, show the right fitness levels and attitude to get back in there.
“When they do, they know they’ve earned it.”