GRAHAM Alexander once again faces the tough task of working around Fleetwood Town’s lengthy injury list as fellow promotion-chasers Burton Albion head to Highbury tomorrow.
Shaun Beeley is the only one of Alexander’s wounded stars possibly in line to make a return – with Gareth Evans, Nathan Pond and Jon Parkin again set to be missing.
Beeley faces a late test on his knee, while winger Ryan Crowther is due to see the club doctor today to determine whether he is fit to play – the midfielder was concussed in Tuesday’s 2-1 victory at Oxford, in which he opened the scoring.
But Alexander is not worried. He said: “We’ve had to change about a little bit over the last two games.
“To get six points out of two tough away games (Town won 1-0 at Torquay last Saturday) was fantastic. I want a competitive squad. I don’t see first team and reserves – I see 22 or 23 first team players.
“The players who have come in have shown they want to be part of the first team.
“If you get more wins, it makes the players more likely to keep their place and it makes everyone more eager to be on that bandwagon. It feeds the hunger and that’s what we want to see.”
And the Fleetwood boss has been particularly impressed by the impact of Jean-Michel Fontaine – the striker from La Reunion given his chance after Parkin’s hamstring problems returned.
Alexander said: “When we came into the club we didn’t really have much strength up front. Jon Parkin was injured at the time, so we looked to get someone in.
“Jamille Matt came in, who is a good size, and along with Jean-Michel that’s added to the strikers that we have. Michel and David Ball worked really well together down at Oxford. They seemed a nice link pair and looked very threatening.”
Victory at Oxford thrust Fleetwood into the play-off places, just two points behind third-placed Cheltenham with a game in hand.
But Alexander insisted there was no extra pressure beyond that imposed by his players on themselves.
He said: “I always think there’s pressure. If you are losing games, people can be berating you and caning you. But it goes home with you because you do it to yourself anyway.
“When you’re winning, you want to keep winning for your own personal career and pride, and that’s what the players are showing at the moment. They want to be successful. We have to take it one small step at a time, and we have to keep picking up points and adding them to our tally.”
The manager is hopeful Fleetwood’s run of three victories in four games is a sign that consistency – lacking for much of the season and essential to mount a promotion push in such a tight division – has finally arrived at Highbury.
But he repeated his vow to keep players’ feet firmly on the ground and to take it one game at a time.
Burton became the first team to be beaten by Fleetwood Town in The Football League when Dean Howell’s goal brought all three points back to Highbury in August.
And Alexander is all too aware of the tough test he faces to repeat that feat. He said: “It will be a very tough game. If we think we can put 99 per cent effort in we’ll be mistaken.
“We have to give our all every day, and only then do you get your rewards. Success or failure is such a fine line. We know they’re one of the sides who are in and around us. That makes it a big game.
“But we’ll just treat it like any other and try to make sure we get what we do right to give ourselves the best chance of winning.”
Gary Rowett’s Brewers are below Town on goal difference and are unbeaten in four games, their last outing a 2-0 home win over Rotherham.