MANAGER Micky Mellon has hailed the ‘incredible’ fighting spirit of his Fleetwood Town players on a day when he learned that he is to lose Jon Parkin and Rob Edwards to hamstring injuries.
Parkin is out for five or six weeks, while Edwards has returned to his parent club Barnsley.
However, Mellon was not keen to dwell on that disappointment, but to praise to the skies the levels of endeavour and commitment shown to the Highbury cause, with several of the squad new to the Football League.
Speaking on the eve of tomorrow’s trip to Exeter City by his fourth-placed team, Mellon said: “I am willing to stand corrected on this, but I can’t think that there is another team in League One, who have five or six players in their squad who have moved up from Conference North and are now playing at League Two.
“We are playing established, big teams with players who have hundreds of appearances to their name - I have players whose experience in League football is just 16 or less.
“I picked up Junior Brown for £2,000 when he was playing Unibond League football, while Jamie McGuire only cost £2,000 as well.
“I signed Scott Davies while he was playing for Morecambe reserves and now he is flying around the goal like a gymnast for me.
“Steve McNulty cost £15,000 (from Barrow) and I will never spend money better than that in my entire managerial career.
“I watched the DVD of the Rotherham match on Tuesday night, and there was an incident when big Steve slipped while trying to make a tackle.
“He was still on the ground, but he was so determined to get the ball that he made another tackle on the Rotherham player with his head!
“That’s the sort of thing that makes me feel so proud of my players and what they are doing for me and for this club.
“It is about time some people took a step back and had a reality-check about what we have achieved here. OK, we have experienced players like Barry Ferguson and we did spend money on David Ball and Steven Gillespie, but I think I was entitled to do that because I had a lost a 38-goal striker (Jamie Vardy) and needed to nurture a new one.
“We are on the best ride of our lives at the moment, playing in the Football League, fourth in the table and in the second round of the FA Cup, and we shouldn’t forget that.”
The loss of Parkin and Edwards has stretched Fleetwood’s resources, and Mellon says that if he does not manage to bolster his squad with a loan signing before Saturday, he would still be content to go with what he has got.
Mellon said: “We have looked at players who we might take on loan, but they are either on too much money or not available.”
While Fleetwood were drawing with Rotherham on Tuesday night, Exeter registered a 2-0 win over AFC Wimbledon, the Grecians’ first clean sheet in League Two since a 3-0 victory over Burton Albion on September 1.
They have at times looked susceptible to set-pieces and corners, but will be gratified by the Wimbledon result.
Exeter manager Paul Tisdale is aware of the threat that Fleetwood could pose, given their resources, which puts them as one of the favourites with the bookmakers for promotion.
He said: “You always have to look at the teams that are on form, building and getting stronger and stronger and it looks like Fleetwood are doing that having got promoted the last couple of seasons.
“They are now doing very well again this year.
“They have got strong players and they are adding to their team constantly – the wheels are turning and they are going forward.
“Any side on that kind of cycle and are building a team to progress up the leagues are going to continue to do so.
“If you add to that the capability to sign very good players, who are arguably on an level higher than League Two, then you have to say they have got a very good chance of getting promoted.
“I don’t think they are a lot of people out there who are surprised at how well Fleetwood are doing.”