Wembley prize needs no explaining to Town

Ryan Cresswell is available for tonight's cup-tie at Highbury,  having recovered from illness

Ryan Cresswell is available for tonight's cup-tie at Highbury, having recovered from illness

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Graham Alexander insists there’s no need to remind his squad of the Wembley prize at stake as Fleetwood Town continue their Johnstone’s Paint Trophy adventure tonight .

Carlisle United visit Highbury this evening, with a spot in the northern area semi-finals at stake.

And Alexander, from his own experience, believes it’s a competition lower league players should relish.

“It’s great competition for players who don’t get a chance at the highest level to play in a cup final at Wembley,” said Alexander.

“I never got near the final but I was desperate to because I thought it was my most realistic chance of getting there.

“You ask anyone who’s won it or all the supporters who have followed their teams to Wembley and it’s a brilliant occasion.

“But you can’t look beyond the next game. We’ve got to concentrate on Carlisle.

“We just want to get a positive result and be in the draw for the next round.”

Town have beaten two League One clubs on the way to tonight’s quarter-final, thumping holders Crewe 4-0 last time out.

And the Fleetwood boss insists the results against the Railwaymen and at Tranmere show how seriously he is taking the competition.

“We’ve had a real go already,” he said. “That’s not how we think. I want to win every game I go into.

“You can’t turn that competitive edge off. We’ve made changes in this competition but they’ve always been changes we didn’t think would weaken the side.

“It’s not done us harm – we’ve beaten two League One sides.”

Town would be three games from Wembley should they win tonight.

But he sees no reason to remind his players of that fact.

He said: “Some things you don’t have to say as a manager.

“No manager ever had to say to me, ‘Here’s a chance to get to Wembley. I knew that.

“Sometimes you can put on too much pressure. You can’t talk of Wembley in the quarter-finals when you’ve got a League One club in front of you.

“You’ve got to talk about the opposition and what you are going to do, and keep it as simple as that.

“The lads know in the back of their heads what the end goal is, but if we don’t do the hard work first there’s no point talking about it.”

And the Fleetwood boss is looking forward to once again testing his table-topping side against opponents from a higher level.

“I think it’s exciting playing teams from above your league,” he said.

“It’s a break from the norm. The league is a long hard season and it’s good when you don’t know what to expect.

“It’s good when you perform well and when you win, and it gives you a confidence boost to take into the day to day.

“This will be a tough game, make no mistake. But we’ll attack it in the right manner and take the game to them.”

There will be no change from the normal preparations for Town, who could welcome back Ryan Cresswell, who sat out Saturday’s FA Cup win through illness.

Alexander said:”Whoever we are playing it’s the same. We’ll always prepare in the same way.

“It’s another test for us, a decent team in Carlisle. Graham Kavanagh has done a decent job since taking over there.

“They will play football. It’s two good teams and it should be a decent game, but it’s one we want to win.”

And he’s hoping for a hostile atmosphere under the lights at Highbury, with the Sky Sports cameras in town to capture the occasion.

“Carlisle are a big club from just up the road,” said Alexander.

“They could bring big numbers and when a club has done that the Fleetwood supporters have responded in kind.

“It makes for a cracking atmosphere.

“Bury and Chesterfield – when they brought numbers it really lifted the place and our fans were fantastic.

“Hopefully that will be the case. But we’ve got a responsibility to give them something to cheer about. It’s a two-way street and we take our responsibility as seriously as the fans take theirs.”

The Fleetwood boss will naturally have one eye on Saturday’s trip to bottom of the table Northampton.

“It’s a balancing act because we’re in a good run of form,” he said.

“You want to keep up that run. If you miss a game because you take a lot of players out how does that affect Saturday? Will the rest do any good?

“It’s a fine line but I’ve got great belief in the players who aren’t in the 11.

“We have to look at the two games but we have to focus on Carlisle. We won’t put a team out who aren’t going to compete.”