Conor McLaughlin return boosts Fleetwood Town dressing room says Simon Grayson

Simon Grayson is pleased with what he has seen from Conor McLaughlin since the defender’s return to Fleetwood Town.

Wednesday, 20th October 2021, 12:30 pm

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McLaughlin’s arrival was officially announced a fortnight ago but he had been at the club prior to that, training and awaiting confirmation from the EFL that he could be added to Town’s squad.

The Cod Army had to wait on an official letter from Darnell Johnson’s doctor to confirm his Achilles injury would keep him out long enough to warrant a change in personnel.

Conor McLaughlin has so far made one brief substitute appearance since returning to Fleetwood

McLaughlin at least knows all about the club, having played more than 200 games for the Cod Army in a five-season stint at Highbury (2012-17).

McLaughlin was an unused substitute in Tuesday's defeat by Burton Albion following a cameo debut off the bench in Saturday's win over Crewe Alexandra.

Grayson admitted the experience of the Northern Ireland international was a big factor in Town’s pursuit. He said: “He’s been here before, knows what it is all about and is an experienced player.

“After Darnell Johnson did his Achilles, we had the opportunity to get another slot available and he was the best one out there.

“He knows the football club, is versatile, can play right-back, centre-back and in the midfield.

“He feels at home here and he’s a great lad to have around the dressing room with his experience.

“We’re a young group but that experience can help us along the way.”

While injury problems persist at Highbury, they were at least able to welcome back striker Callum Morton for Saturday’s win over Crewe Alexandra.

The West Bromwich Albion loanee returned off the bench but there were plenty more still missing.

Grayson won’t rush players back into the fold, and while he is hopeful some will be back sooner rather than later he wasn’t giving anything away.

The head coach said: “He’s (Morton) been out for two or three weeks now with a thigh injury, which hasn’t been ideal for us given the number of injuries we’ve had.

“We’ve been steady with him. We didn’t want to rush him back but he’s great to have available and coming off the bench. We knew the game would open up in the second half for him.

“It would just be nice to have one or two bodies back. They’re getting closer.

“We’ve got Harrison Holgate out, Tom Clarke, Shayden Morris, Anthony Pilkington – so there’s four who could be in the squad.

“Some are edging closer. When will they be available? We’ll have to wait and see.”

Pilkington was an unused substitute against the Brewers on Tuesday.

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