Fleetwood v Sky Blues: Match Preview

Nick Haughton will miss several weeks with a badly bruised foot
Nick Haughton will miss several weeks with a badly bruised foot

Fleetwood boss Graham Alexander believes two League One play-off spots are up for grabs but refuses to speculate on whether his side can be part of the end of season showdown.

Town face Alexander’s boyhood team Coventry City at Highbury this evening (7.45pm) looking to make it three wins on the spin.

They will do so without rising star Nick Haughton, who has been ruled out for several weeks with a badly bruised foot.

X-rays yesterday showed no serious long-term damage following a challenge by Rochdale’s Andy Cannon in Saturday’s win.

“You could say there are two places to fight for,” said Alexander. It had looked like there might just be one.

“The five in the top five spots are massive clubs. They are expected to be there. There are no surprises.

“The way the league’s panned out we’ve been in the same position for a couple of months. Last week we were 14th; this week we’re eighth. It can change so quickly.

“We just concentrate on every game and let everyone else speculate on the potential outcomes.”

Fleetwood and Coventry have very different reasons to be battling for points tonight.

Town are just two off the top six and looking to put together a late-season run, while Coventry will be desperate to continue their revival under Tony Mowbray and secure League One status for next season.

Alexander made it clear that should also be Fleetwood’s first target, though many in the stands at Highbury are looking up not down.

“Everybody needs the points for their own reason,” said the Fleetwood boss.

“Coventry are fighting for the points to stay in this league. We’re doing the same.

“We want to establish ourselves and make sure we’re a competitive force, so that when we get to the summer, people will look at us as a very good team who can beat anyone, and look at Highbury as a hard place to go to. That’s our target.

“We’ve got 10 games, a lot of points to play fo. We want to take as many as possible.

“We have to look where it will take us.”

One thing definitely on Alexander’s wish list for Town’s last 10 games is greater consistency.

Saturday’s 1-0 victory over Rochdale meant back-to-back league victories for the first time since August.

And Alexander admitted: “It has been a problem for us all season. The concern has never been the talent or ability to win games – it’s just been reproducing it every week.

“We’ve been striving for that, and to see the game out well on Saturday was a massive credit to the lads.

“We’ve managed two wins in a row. That’s a start and we now need to build on that.”

Conor McLaughlin looks likely to miss Fleetwood’s derby day showdown with Preston North End having been called up to the Northern Ireland squad.

McLaughlin joins up with Michael O’Neill’s side for friendlies against Scotland next Wednesday and a Euro 2016 qualifier against Finland a week on Saturday - the day before North End are due to visit Highbury.

Nick Haughton has not broken his foot but is likely to be out for several weeks with severe bruising following a challenge in Saturday’s 1-0 win over Rochdale.

Haughton was on the receiving end of a heavy challenge by Andy Cannon early in the first half. The midfielder limped through to the break but left Highbury in a medical boot.

He went for X-rays yesterday, which revealed no serious damage.

Manager Graham Alexander said: “Nick is going to be missing for a couple of weeks.

“The X-ray was clear but there’s severe bruising to his foot.

“He’s going to be missing but we’ve got Antoni Sarcevic back in the squad for the Coventry game after suspension.”

Town have no fresh injury worries, despite a physically demanding game against Dale.

“The players have put everything into every game,” said Alexander.

“We’ve got great professionals who look after themselves and do all the right things, and they’ll be ready to go again tonight against Coventry.”

Adam Barton could finally make his Highbury debut tomorrow night – for the Sky Blues.

Midfielder Barton was on loan with Fleetwood at the end of last season but didn’t make a single appearance in his former Preston team-mate Alexander’s side.

He has been a regular in the Coventry side and could be in midfield for tonight’s clash.