Simon Grayson: Game time at Stoke City a big boost for Fleetwood Town signing Anthony Pilkington

Simon Grayson says the midweek match at Stoke City will have been a big boost for forward Anthony Pilkington as he gets up to speed at Fleetwood Town.

Thursday, 12th August 2021, 8:00 am

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New signings Pilkington and Leeds United loanee Ryan Edmondson made their full debuts in attack in Tuesday's Carabao Cup defeat in the Potteries, having both come off the bench in Saturday's season-opener against Portsmouth.

Pilkington, 33, is closing in on 400 EFL appearances but last weekend's was his first in well over a year, following an ill-fated 2020-21 in India at Robbie Fowler's East Bengal club.

Anthony Pilkington came off the bench for his Fleetwood debut against Portsmouth

The Blackburn-born forward has been building his fitness and Grayson says the cup game will be a significant step forward.

The Town head coach said: “He's played a couple of Under-23 games, came on against Leeds in pre-season and started tonight.

“You could see his quality at times. He is versatile and can play different positions: wide, central midfield and at Stoke he played for us just off Ryan Edmondson.

“He is going to be one of the players who have benefited from that game time.”

Grayson says Pilkington will also add an older head to a youthful dressing dressing room.

He added: “We do still have experienced players, like Anthony, Tom Clarke and other lads who are only 23 or 24 but have played up to 150 games.

“So we're trying to get the dynamics of the team right and hopefully build off Saturday's performance against Portsmouth, which was really encouraging, even if we didn't get the result we wanted.

“We'd have loved to have got through in the cup (Stoke face Doncaster Rovers in the second round) but the bigger picture is going to Lincoln and Sheffield Wednesday, then Cheltenham at home over the next week or so.”

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