Fleetwood Town manager Graham Alexander has warned his players to treat Saturday’s derby opponents Morecambe like one of League Two’s elite clubs.
The Town players, pushing for a top-three finish, won’t need reminding of the threat that Jim Bentley’s side will pose on Saturday as Morecambe beat them 1-0 in the corresponding fixture further up the coast on Boxing Day.
And there is a huge amount at stake at Highbury on Saturday, with the Shrimps ensnared in the relegation net.
Morecambe are 18th, only five points clear of the drop zone and relegation to the Conference.
Alexander said of the Morecambe match: “Without a doubt it’s one of the hardest matches we will have. There are no thoughts that this is going to be easy.
“It will be just as tough as Oxford away or Rochdale at home. We know from the previous game this season, when we came unstuck, that they will be difficult opponents.
“Morecambe have their reasons for getting their three points and we have ours.”
The Fleetwood boss continued: “We have to make sure our motivation is stronger than theirs and our quality is just as good as it can be.
“We have to take the game to Morecambe because it is at our place.”
The season is now reaching a defining point for Fleetwood, who are fourth in the table with five to play, and just three points behind Chesterfield in the third automatic promotion place.
With two wins and a draw from their last three matches, Alexander knows their cause would receive a major boost if they can continue to show such consistency.
The manager said: “Only time will tell (if that will happen)
“We have had six or seven spells this season when we have won three or four and then had a bad result and a bad performance.
“If we want to get into that top three, we are at the stage of the season when we can’t afford any poor results.
“The lads are playing in a relaxed and confident way, but you still have to work hard and maintain that work ethic.
“We know we can’t relax our standards.
“We can only focus on ourselves, get as many points as we can and try to reel in one of the three teams who are above us.”