Five strikers step up race to start for Fleetwood

Fleetwood's Ash Hunter is denied by Blackpool keeper Craig Thordarson
Fleetwood's Ash Hunter is denied by Blackpool keeper Craig Thordarson

Fleetwood boss Uwe Rosler says forwards Ash Hunter and Wes Burns have done their chances of forcing their way into the starting line-up against Oxford on Saturday no harm with starring roles in the development squad’s cup win over Blackpool.

Hunter netted twice in the 3-0 Lancashire Senior Cup victory at Poolfoot Farm yesterday to secure Town’s place in the semi-finals.

Seasiders shot-stopper Craig Thordarson thumped a Jack Sowerby corner into his own net for the other goal.

With five forwards at Rosler’s disposal, Hunter has yet to start a League One game this season but has netted three times off the bench, while Burns’ only league start was in last month’s 4-2 defeat by Southend.

They will be battling it out with former Oxford loan striker Conor McAleny, who is easing his way back from an ankle injury, eight-goal hitman Devante Cole and five-goal Jordy Hiwula for starting berths at home to the seventh-placed U’s.

And Rosler felt both 22-year-old strikers played well as he watched Paul Murray’s side progress against the Seasiders.

He said: “When you look at our games, Ash Hunter and Wes have been in more or less every squad and it has been mostly those two who have come on.

“They have played a part not only in the squad but also on the pitch, and performances like that (against Blackpool) did not do them any harm.”

The duo were not the only first teamers in action against a youthful Pool side, with keeper Chris Neal and

defenders Harvey Rodgers and Godswill Ekpolo also featuring in a strong develpment side.

Rosler also singled out Harrison Biggins, a summer signing for the development squad from Stocksbridge Park Steels, for his performance in the midfield.

He added: “I think it was good the development team had not had a game for a while and some of our players needed minutes.

“They played a very young Blackpool team but we did really well.

“You only can beat what is put in front of you and the players have been really impressive in terms of effort and quality.

“The first-team players, who are obviously my first focus, did really well – Ash Hunter got two goals Wes Burns played well.

“Harvey Rodgers and Jack Sowerby were good. Chris Neal did not get tested much but overall I am happy with the first-team players.

“There were also some good performances when I look at the development players – Harrison Biggins gave a strong performance.”

Town are hoping to bounce back from last weekend’s 1-0 defeat by league leaders Shrewsbury last and pick up their first home league win since they beat Bury 3-2 more than six weeks ago.

Rosler believes that it will be an entertaining fixture for the Cod Army and that there will be goals in the game.

He said: “It has been a normal build-up so far – analysing Oxford, training to prepare the team for Oxford.

“I think there will be goals in the game for both sides. I hope we will get that one goal more than them.”

Town’s 17-year-old keeper Billy Crellin has reached the final of the Under-17 World Cup with England in India.

Fleetwood-born Crellin has featured in one of England’s six matches so far, the 4-0 win over Iraq in their final group game.

Manchester City’s Curtis Anderson made a mistake in yesterday’s 3-1 semi-final win over Brazil but is expected to keep his place for Saturday’s decider against Spain, with Crellin on the bench.