McLaughlin has makings of midfielder

Conor McLaughlin
Conor McLaughlin

Fleetwood boss Graham Alexander insists he’s made no long term decisions on a midfield switch for Conor McLaughlin.

The Northern Ireland right-back has played at the back of Town’s midfield diamond for the last two games - including Saturday’s 0-0 draw at Doncaster Rovers.

Alexander threw the 23-year-old into midfield in order to accomodate rising star Tyler Forbes who has made a mark at full back in recent weeks.

The Town boss didn’t want to have to leave one of his star men on the bench - throwing McLaughlin into midfield for the first time against MK Dons.

“We looked at what we needed last Tuesday,” said Alexander.

“We thought we had to freshen it up after the defeat at Walsall.

“Tyler has done very well as right back and we’vehad a very good player who we rate highly left on the bench.

“We looked at it and we thought could Conor could do a job in midfield, similar to what Alan Goodall did for us last year.

“I think he’s been superb, to be honest.

“He was probably our best player on Saturday.”

Although he’s not ready to force McLaughlin into a permanent switch, Alexander believes the player has taken the change in the right manner.

“I spoke to him in the week about the switch,” said Alexander.

“I haven’t made any long-term decisions on positions but I’d like to see him in these few games and see what he’s got.

“He’s been pretty positive about it, to be fair, and I think it’s good that a player buys into any changes you might make.”

Whether or not he continues with McLaughlin in midfield after the summer, Alexander knows his international star has all the right qualities to play in that position.

He said: He certainly isn’t lacking when it comes to his ability on the ball.

“I said to him he’s got every attribute I look for.

“He can defend, which is important with that role.

“He’s fit, he’s good aerially and he’s got composure about his play.

“I think he’s got a great passing range.

“He’s got all the attributes.

“Whether he’ll play there long term we’ll wait and see.

“But his first couple of games in central midfield he’s done superbly well.”

McLaughlin could reprise his midfield role when Town play their last home game of the season on Saturday.

Colchester United are the visitors to Highbury, the Us looking to take points of Town and avoid relegation to League Two.

The match is followed by Fleetwood Town’s annual presentation evening in Jim’s Bar – incluing the club’s player of the season award.