It’s been a long time since Fleetwood Town last had a full week on the training ground.
Two months to be precise.
It’s eight weeks since Graham Alexander’s side last went Saturday to Saturday without a game – a sequence which has seen them keep up the pressure on the leaders in League Two, despite problems along the way, .
For Town’s management team, it is a chance to do some serious work on the training ground after a period when keeping first-team stars fit for action has been the top priority.
“We’re most definitely happy to have a break and to be able to get on to the training ground,” Alexander told The Gazette.
“There’s no doubt it’s been tough. We’ve had a lot of travel, put in a lot of mileage and the games have been high intensity as well.
“We haven’t changed the team that much because we’ve tried to have a consistent performance level.
“The lads have given everything out on the pitch to get results.
“They’ll get a well deserved break this week.
“But there’s still work to be done on the training pitch to prepare us for these last nine games.”
Victory over Portsmouth on Saturday leaves Fleetwood well placed for a late push for automatic promotion.
But Alexander knows his charges can’t afford to rest on their laurels with some massive games ahead.
Rochdale, who went into last night’s game one spot above Town in the last automatic promotion position but who now top the table, visit Highbury a week on Saturday – incentive enough to make the most of a full week’s training
“The lads are happy after the weekend,” said Alexander
“But we can’t just leave it there. The season is far from over.
“We’ve now got to get out on the training ground and keep up the hard work.”
Not that hard work is the only thing which will be welcomed in the Fleetwood camp this week, as striker Jon Parkin made clear.
“I think we might need to put our feet up for a couple of days,” he joked.
“But it’s been Saturday- Tuesday for seven or eight weeks now.
“It’s been tough and we’ve had some long journeys.
“But we’re not going to use those as an excuse for anything that’s happened.
“We now need to get back on the training ground and concentrate on Saturday’s match at Exeter.”
Parkin was among the goalscorers in the 3-1 win over Portsmouth. Town missed good chances to score more – all the more reason, says the manager, to keep their eye on the ball.
Alexander said: “We had chances to improve the goal difference on Saturday.
“But it keeps up focused for next week.
“We’ve got to make sure we are tough enough with each other both on the pitch and on the training ground to ensure we are at the races when we travel to Exeter at the weekend.”
One of those to go close to a goal against Pompey was Nathan Pond, his spectacular overhead kick flying past the post.
Alexander was delighted to see one of his centre-backs attempt an acrobatic move in the opposition box, insisting it demonstrated the passion in his side.
“If it goes in, it goes in – great,” said Alexander. “It shows all the lads are doing everything they can at both ends of the pitch.
“They are all mucking in, attackers getting back to defend corners, defenders getting forward and trying to score goals.
“That’s what it takes to be successful.
“We’re going to keep with the work ethic and hopefully it will stand us in good stead.”
And the Fleetwood boss is full of confidence in his team ahead of the big push to the end of the campaign.
He said: “I know we’ve let ourselves down on occasions but I know the quality in this group.
“I’ve seen it with my own eyes and you don’t just discard that because of a poor run of results.
“You’ve got to keep faith with it. You’ve got to show them they’re still good players and a good team. They will come good.
“We’re not there yet. There are still things to improve on but I’ve got every faith in this group of players doing a job for Fleetwood.”