He is about to play his 100th game for Fleetwood Town and Alex Cairns praised goalkeeping coach David Lucas for aiding his development – and for helping to bring about his move to the Fylde coast.
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Prior to his arrival in the summer of 2016, Cairns had made his only EFL appearance for Leeds in a 5-0 Championship defeat by Blackpool.
He had to wait five years for his next opportunity with Fleetwood, playing his part in a long unbeaten run which propelled them into the 2016-17 play-offs.
That promotion bid was ended by Bradford City, who Town visit tomorrow, and Cairns praised the role of former Preston North End keeper Lucas in his development.
He said: “Lucs has had me from the start. He is the one who brought me to the club.
“He’d heard a few things about me before I left Leeds and he has been excellent.
“We have worked on every aspect of my game and I’d like to think my game has improved under Lucs.
“He is a top guy, a great goalkeeping coach and was a great keeper himself.”
Cairns is the only ever-present under Joey Barton this term.
Having had to wait for his chance under Uwe Rosler and enduring a spell out of the side in last season’s survival battle, Cairns (below) said: “I’m starting to stamp my authority on the team, and developing as a player and as someone the lads look up to in the dressing room.
“I think I have been very fortunate even to make my debut at this club, so I’m very excited and proud to be making my 100th league appearance. I did not know it would come round as quickly as it has.”
Town head to the relegation-battling Bantams seven points and four places behind Peterborough in the last play-off spot.
And Cairns says until it is mathematically impossible he will not rule out a top six-finish. He said: “When I first came here you could tell there was expectancy. People wanted to do well and climb up the leagues.
“When you look at the academy and the club throughout, I really feel it is starting to become a big club.
“We have shown that we are one of the best teams in League One but it is the weirdest league in football for me – everyone beats everyone.
“The team that gets the run at the right time usually gets promoted and I’m going to be trying to get into those play-offs again.”