Checkatrade matters to Fleetwood says defender

Ashley Eastham
Ashley Eastham

Fleetwood defender Ash Eastham says the Checkatrade Trophy is important in his eyes despite the controversy which surrounded the competition last year.

The much-derided tournament came under fire for the introduction of Premier League and Championship academy teams.

Town boss Uwe Rosler has been a critic of the trophy and his club was among those fined last season for breaking the competition’s team selection rules.

But as Town prepare to host Leicester at Highbury in their first group A game tonight (7.45pm), Eastham says it is an opportunity for the players to progress in the tournament, improve their game and bounce back from Saturday’s 3-1 League One defeat at Bristol Rovers.

He said: “It is an important cup for us. It might be a young Leicester side but it is a chance for us to work on our structure and improve.

“It is good to have a game so soon because Saturday was our first defeat of the season. It is always good to get another game under your belt to bounce back.”

Eastham gave an honest assessment of the defeat at the Memorial Stadium and backed Town to put it behind them. He said: “We were obviously a little bit down in the dressing room. That was not like us so far this season.

“Our performance was not too bad on the whole – I just think a few were a little bit naive in aspects of our defending as a team and a little bit slow to react to certain situations, which cost us.

“Since the manager has come in our structure and foundation have been about clean sheets and a solid XI, not just the defenders.

“I just felt on Saturday, and the manager did too, that we were a little bit exposed in certain areas. It is not like us but I’m sure we will brush up on it.

“I thought Ash Hunter and Wes Burns were brilliant when they came on. That is what you need from your substitutes at time when there are tired legs out there.

“They gave their defenders nightmares but we could not get that second goal and went on to concede the third, which is disappointing.

“We’d have liked to have got something from the game and I felt we were going to in the second half.

“We move on to the Checkatrade and with a break this weekend (due to the fixture at Blackburn being postponed) we can get refreshed for the next game.

“We move on from Bristol Rovers. We are a confident bunch, the manager believes in us and I am sure we will have a successful season.”