Fleetwood Town aim to have striker Ched Evans fully fit for the coming week’s trips to table-topping Portsmouth and Peterborough and for the derby clash with Blackpool after a week of rehabilitation.
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The 29-year-old Sheffield United loanee has scored six times for Town but was rested for last weekend’s 2-1 win over Shrewsbury.
Head coach Joey Barton did not want to aggravate a shoulder injury sustained in last month’s defeat by Barnsley but is hopeful the striker will be fit for Saturday’s trip to League One leaders Pompey.
Barton said: “It’s just a hangover from the shoulder injury he picked up against Barnsley. He then played through the pain barrier for us at Doncaster. You could see he was really struggling but he gave everything because he is that kind of lad.
“He still had a bit of pain in there and had a scan in the early part of last week. There were a couple of little issues in there.
“We were faced with the prospect of resting him, making sure we look after him and doing a rehabilitation week to have him fit potentially for Portsmouth, Peterborough and Blackpool.
“If we’d risked him (against the Shrews) he could have made it worse, landed on it funny and required surgery.
“None of us want that, so we have to be a little bit smart in terms of managing his load to get him fit for 30 games as opposed to the next game.
“Paddy (Madden) was outstanding up there and in the first period you would not have known Ched was missing. He has been a massive player for us, so credit to the lads for that performance.”
Town were boosted on Saturday by captain Craig Morgan making his first league start since injuring his hamstring at Sunderland.
Fellow defender Tommy Spurr (hip) is on the comeback trail, while loan left-back James Husband has returned from parent club Norwich, where his hamstring injury was treated.
Conor McAleny (hamstring) and Dean Marney (groin) are also improving, the latter playing 45 minutes for Fleetwood’s development squad in yesterday’s 4-0 win over Morecambe at Poolfoot Farm.
Barton is pleased to see the competition for places increasing. He said: “They are on their way back.
“Marney trained with the group last week and Conor should do this week. Hubby will be out a little bit beyond that. The main thing is getting the skipper back out there.
“I thought he gave us that assuredness, certainly when Shrewsbury were piling forward after a telling-off by their manager at half-time. The skipper and Ash Eastham at the back really settled us down.”
Bury’s 2-1 win over Leicester City Under-21s on Tuesday left Fleetwood bottom of their Checkatrade Trophy group.
Town must win their final group B fixture at Bury next month to have any chance of reaching the knockout stages.