FLEETWOOD Town manager Graham Alexander wants to streamline his squad to increase competition at Highbury.
Town currently have more than 30 professionals, a figure new manager Alexander insists is simply too high as he looks to steer Fleetwood back into the play-off zone.
Alexander said: “There are good players in the squad, there’s no doubt about that.
“But there’s still a little bit of tweaking to do here and there. The squad is too big.
“It is hard to have so many professionals because you’re going to have eight or 10 who aren’t involved each week.
“That’s not a great place for them to be. We have make it competitive and more streamlined.
“There are one or two areas we still need to strengthen as well, but all in all I can’t complain because there is a lot of quality.”
Fitness is another big issue with Alexander, who played 1,024 professional games in his professional career.
The manager believes he can squeeze more out of his men. He said: “That lads look fit but they can still be fitter.
“It looks like we’ve drained every bit of energy out of them, but I want them to be going right into the 95th minute and really bust a gut. The intention is there for them to do that.
“They just need to train their bodies in the way we’re going to play and that will happen over time.”
And Saturday’s 2-2 draw at League Two leaders Gillingham convinced Appleton his hard work on the training ground is paying off.
He added:”We’ve tried to get our message across and it’s early days. The lads have been brilliant.
“They’re working hard every day to take on board what we’re putting across, and hopefully we can see that coming to fruition in games.
“We matched Gillingham for tempo and played our own stuff as well.
“Maybe in the second half we petered out a bit, but we did what we needed to do defensively to take the point and that is very encouraging.”
And Alexander insisted Fleetwood would go into every game looking to win, starting at Oxford on Saturday.
The preparations began immediately after the long journey to Kent and the manager said: “The performance at Gillingham has boosted my confidence in what we have got. Hopefully it will be the same for the players.
“We started preparing for Oxford straight away because you’ve got to be a professional seven days a week.
“And we’ll go down there with the intention of winning. That’s what we’ll do for the remainder of the season.”