Town remain short at the back

Conor McLaughlin is away with Northern Ireland
Conor McLaughlin is away with Northern Ireland
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Fleetwood boss Graham Alexander may be forced to throw untested talent into the firing line as he handles a crisis at the back.

Eggert Jonsson is touch a go for Saturday’s game against Rochdale with Nathan Pond sidelined for at least another month and Conor McLaughlin away on international duty.

That leaves Fleetwood struggling for bodies to join their three at the back - Max Cartwright and new boy Victor Nirennold both in with a chance of their first Highbury start.

Alexander admits he’s light in terms of experience but won’t let that dent preparations.

He said: “It’s a bit of a struggle - we’re just waiting for a couple of bodies to come back because we’re probably stretched.

“With Conor (McLaughlin) away as well that’s made the situation a little bit worse for us.

“But whoever we put out, whatever team we put out we expect to put on a good performance.

“That’s what we expect of the players who are fit and with us.”

Cartwright is a product of the Highbury youth system and has impressed with the club’s development side.

But he is yet to play in the Football League, as is the case for former Stade Rennais youngster Nirennold, whose main experience is in US football.

But Alexander insists Fleetwood want to be blooding new talent.

“That’s the reality of it, it’s what we’ve planned for as a club,” he said.

“We’re in the early stages of it but it’s been a lot of work over the last 18 months or so.

“The planning stage started in League Two, to get to the stage where we’re bringing our own young players through.

“That’s why we started the development squad when we got promoted.

“We have to put our faith in that - if we don’t we’ll have been wasting our time over the last year and a half.

“The opportunity is there, like I’ve said.

“I’ve said to the players there’ll be injuries, suspensions, call-ups.

“Those will create chances.

“It’s up to the individuals to take them when they come up.”

Both Nirennold and Cartwright were on the bench for last weekend’s defeat at Doncaster.

And Alexander insists that would not be the case if he didn’t have faith in the pair.

“Max has been around the first team for 12 months.

“He still needs to do things to improve himself but we’ve spoken to him.

“Every time he trains with us he’s improving.

“Victor is a new addition and we felt with the squad available throw him in and give him a chance.

“If we’d had to have used them we’d have been confident in what they can give us.”

The Fleetwood boss made it clear this won’t be the only point in the campaign when Town’s young guns are handed a chance to stake their claim for a first team spot.

He said:”We’ve got a lot of young players here who have no experience, they are totally unproven.

“We see the quality they have got on the training pitch and in the development games.

“It’s why they are here in the first place.

“If they get an opportunity in the first team, great.

“We push young players aggressively but only if they are up to the right standard and doing the right thing on and off the pitch.

“We’ve got more than two or three doing that at the moment .

“It’s going to be a long season - if these lads keep themselves right, keep themselves knocking at the door they will get their chance.”