Morgan absence will offer an opportunity

Oxford United's Scott Shearer claws the ball away from Fleetwood Town's Craig Morgan
Oxford United's Scott Shearer claws the ball away from Fleetwood Town's Craig Morgan

Town manager Joey Barton has given a positive update on skipper Craig Morgan as he prepares to miss the match against Accrington Stanley with a hamstring injury.

The 34-year-old central defender had built up a solid partnership with Ash Eastham since they were brought together for the 2-0 win at Oxford United.

However, the defender limped off with a hamstring injury during the draw at Sunderland last time out.

Tommy Spurr was the man to come off the bench, taking the left-sided spot as Ash Eastham moved over to the right.

Tuesday’s Checkatrade Trophy draw with Leicester City saw Spurr and Cian Bolger audition for the chance to partner Eastham this Saturday at Highbury.

Bolger’s red card during that match will not rule him out of league action as Wes Burns faces the second of his three-match ban.

Barton said: “He (Morgan) is alright. It is going to be a period of time because it is going to be a little bit of a hamstring strain.

“We are assessing him. He is getting better every day.

“Obviously it will be tough for Morgs for the weekend.

“That gives another opportunity for somebody else.

“Him and Ash were building a really nice partnership.

“To lose him in an early part of the game can disrupt you but I thought the performance after that was first class.

“The drop-off from Craig to who is next in line is not vast.

“We have lads who are training properly. That gives them the opportunity to be ready and step in when they are called upon.”

One of Accrington’s youth products, Bobby Grant, has been left out of Barton’s matchday league squad for the last couple of games.

The midfielder is once again expected to miss out against John Coleman’s side.

Some of the first teamers that also featured in midweek are also facing the possibility of missing out but Barton praised his squad’s attitude.

He said: “The nature of the modern day game is that it is a squad game, certainly when you play 46 league games, Checkatrade, League Cup and the FA Cup to come in the winter months.

“They understand that, to be part of a successful team, sometimes you have to miss out.

“We have a lot of good players competing for places in the starting XI, competing for places on the bench.

“Everybody has responded in the right manner. The really pleasing thing for me is competition for places.

“There are going to be good players that miss out because unfortunately 22 into 18 does not go any other way.”