Alexander: Fight for the shirt

Gareth Evans in action at Tranmere    Picture: DERICK THOMAS

Gareth Evans in action at Tranmere Picture: DERICK THOMAS

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Graham Alexander insists there are no fringe players at Fleetwood Town after making five changes for the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy victory at Tranmere.

Matty Blair, Steven Schumacher, Conor McLaughlin, Dean Howell and Ryan Cresswell were all part of the side which dumped Ronnie Moore’s League One side out of the competition. And Alexander insisted such strong performances would do those players a world of good.

He said: “I don’t consider them to be fringe players. I consider all my player to be viable for a first-team place.

“If the lads have the shirt and look after it with good performances and results, they keep it. That’s the sort of environment I want. It’s difficult sometimes and you have to make some hard decisions.

“It’s early days but over the season hopefully the boys will buy into the idea that if they get the chance and take it, they will keep it. That will create an environment where they work hard day in, day out.”

Alexander was delighted by his side’s second-half fightback at Tranmere, having controlled the opening 45 minutes but conceded just before the break for the second match running.

“The lads had the belief at half-time in the dressing room,” he said.”We put that into action and got the result.”

The Fleetwood boss was angry at referee Carl Boyeson after a late incident involving Tranmere skipper Ian Goodison, which left striker Ian Ball needing five stitches to his face. The two made contact near the Fleetwood dugout, with both Alexander and Ball insisting an elbow had been used.

Goodison, who had already given away a free-kick for a similar challenge on Jamille Matt, went unpunished, despite Alexander’s appeals to fourth official Peter Wright.

Alexander said: “David Ball’s got stitches just above his eye. The lad who’s done it has done two. He’s done Jamille and he’s done Bally.

“He’s not even got a yellow card. The first one the referee saw and gave a free-kick.

“The second one was right in front of us and the fourth official, and he’s got away with it which was disappointing.

“It’s a man’s game. I’ve been there myself when you’ve had contact. I’m just disappointed it’s not been dealt with.”