JAMIE Milligan must beat the pain barrier to force his way back into the Fleetwood Town side.
Milligan again looks set to miss out tonight as new boys Danny Rose and Lee Fowler continue their newlook midfield partnership in the home clash with Braintree (7.45pm).
Town talisman Milligan has missed both matches since the FA Cup clash with Blackpool and manager Micky Mellon says the 32-year-old must overcome a longstanding knee ligament worry.
Mellon said: “Jamie has medial problem and he feels that it keeps opening out.
“He has to play through the pain barrier and get over it. It’s just something he has to deal with.”
In Milligan’s absence, Rose has scored in both games and fellow new boy Fowler impressed on a difficult debut at Darlington on Saturday.
Mellon added: “Rose and Fower have done very well in an already strong midfield. But we don’t have as much cover in there as people think because Keith Briggs has a hernia and Anthony Barry is out long-term, though we are awaiting results on another scan.”
The manager acknowledged that Saturday’s emotion-charged victory in the North East was a fiery baptism for Fowler, who used his experience to help Town pull through for a 1-0 win.
Mellon said: “We had to be as professional as possible under difficult circumstances with all that was going on.”
The cash-crippled Quakers’ future remains very much in the balance and Mellon added: “You just hope the club can survive because the passion up there is fantastic, but we showed a lot of experience in the way we conducted ourselves.”
Fowler said of his debut: “It was a tough game. I always thought we have would have to work hard for the three points because Darlington would not fall over and give them to us.
“But we have the win and we have to take that forward into the Braintree game because momentum is a massive thing in football.
“There are a lot of good players here, who are comfortable on the ball, so that has made it easier for me to integrate into the team and it’s going well.”
Town hope to welcome back Jamie Vardy tonight and Mellon is confident Gareth Seddon will also be fit after a groin injury forced him off after an hour at Darlington.
Top scorer Vardy’s absence from Saturday’s side inevitably caused tongues to wag as transfer speculation continues to surround the sought-after striker, but Mellon confirmed it was only a hamstring twinge felt during last week’s training camp in Scotland that kept him out.
Mellon said: “Gareth Seddon got a knock but trained on Monday and he should be OK.
“Vardy did some light training on Monday and looked as though he is over his injury. But it was his first session since Scotland and we’ll know on Tuesdsay how he is.”
It remains to be seen whether Richie Allen makes his home bow tonight following a debut off the bench at Darlington.
Mellon insists the former AFC flyer, who has been in full-time football less than a fortnight, must not be rushed.
He added: “Richie did really well and looked bright. We are very pleased with him and hope he will keep making progress as he is.
“He has settled in well and has a good personality. We are quite experienced at helping players to jump that barrier into full-time football and we will use that experience to help Richie.
“It is a big shock to the system and we will take our time with him. We have to make sure he does enough but not too much.”
Town defeated Braintree 2-1 in Essex in October courtesy of a Milligan penalty and Sean Clancy’s winner.
The mid-table Blue Square Bet Premier newcomers have drawn their last four games but Mellon expects a tough clash.
“Braintree are a big, physical and competitive side, who are very well organised. We know we will have to be at our best to get something.”
Second-placed Town hope that by stretching their unbeaten league run to 14 games tonight they can cash in on any slip-ups by leaders Wrexham, who visit Forest Green tonight with a two-point cushion at the top and a goal difference four superior to Fleetwood’s.