Shutouts are key for Fleetwood boss

Alex Cairns has kept clean sheets in most of his games
Alex Cairns has kept clean sheets in most of his games

Uwe Rosler says clean sheets are the way forward for Fleetwood Town as they seek a fourth successive shutout against Swindon on Saturday.

Fleetwood have conceded in only one of their last seven League One fixtures and have kept 13 clean sheets in a run of 22 games which has seen them beaten only once.

That run goes back to November and coincides with the elevation of Alex Cairns to first-choice keeper – he had never started a Football League game before – and a formation switch to 3-5-2.

Cairns saved a penalty in the 1-1 draw at Swindon in December and head coach Rosler says a clean sheet is a priority in the Highbury return match and in the other six games his third-placed side have to face.

Rosler said: “I think now it is important that we get clean sheets, concentrate on staying fit and make sure players on the treatment table are coming back.”

Perhaps the toughest clean sheet of all was gained in Saturday’s 0-0 draw at Bury, with Town’s back-line disrupted before and during the match.

With Conor McLaughlin on Northern Ireland duty, Godswill Ekpolo slotted in at right wing-back.

Town were able to name skipper and experienced centre-half Nathan Pond on the bench after 10 weeks out injured, though Rosler admitted the 32-year-old did not have the stamina or fitness to play for 80 minutes after the early injury to centre-back Ben Davies.

Instead Rosler threw on Joe Davis for his first appearance since this season’s other goalless draw with the Shakers on Boxing Day.

Midfielder Markus Schwabl also hobbled off at Bury, and Rosler was left to hope that Martyn Woolford and Pond both came through a behind-closed-doors game yesterday.

Woolford, like Pond an unused substitute at Bury, last played in the Checkatrade Trophy defeat at Carlisle on November 9.

Rosler hoped striker Wes Burns would be able to resume training this week and said the injury list was shortening at last.

Rosler said: “There is some light at the end of the tunnel. We just need to cross fingers there is nobody from (last) Saturday missing for next Saturday.

“Pondy was there as a weapon for the last 15-20 minutes, offensively and defensively. He had not the stamina and fitness to go for 80 minutes.

“Joe Davis came in and did a good job and that is what I’m asking of my players.”

The gap between third-placed Town are the clubs outside the play-off zone remains nine points after Millwall were beaten 2-0 last night in their game in hand at Sheffield United, who are now seven points clear at the top.