Alexander issues battle cry

Rotherham's Daniel Nardiello
Rotherham's Daniel Nardiello
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Graham Alexander has called on his players to prove themselves to be true professionals ahead of Fleetwood Town’s trip to Rotherham United.

The Fleetwood boss branded last Saturday’s display against Rochdale, which ended in a 3-0 defeat in front of a bumper home crowd, the worst he had seen in 10 years - adding that lessons learned just a few weeks before had been quickly forgotten.

Graham Alexander

Graham Alexander

He said: “It looks like the lessons we learned at Barnet were quickly forgotten.

“In professional sport you can’t turn it on and off.

“You have to be at it day in and day out and that takes discipline, responsibility from individuals to make sure they do what is right all the time.

“You can’t be professional all the time. I don’t think we are and it’s my job to make sure that changes.”

Town’s squad were all called in on Sunday morning as the post-mortem into Saturday’s embarassing display began - players forced to watch the entire game back.

“We needed to put Saturday behind us,” said Alexander. We came in on Sunday and watched the video together and the lads watched the whole game so they could see what everybody else saw. To be fair there was a lot of honesty, they could see they had let themselves down as well as everybody else associated with the club. We wanted to do it Sunday so we could be straight back in on Monday and getting on with preparing for Saturday’s game.

“That’s what we’ve done. Everything has been geared towards Saturday.

“The lads have put in everything in training and that’s all I can ask of them, it’s what we need for the rest of the season.”

To that end Fleetwood’s first team played a full game behind closed doors against fellow professionals and youth players - Alexander pleased with the effort put in.

But the manager knows Town’s performance at the New York Stadium on Saturday must reflect their training ground efforts.

“It’s a big game for us because we have a lot of questions to answer,” said Alexander.

“Rotherham are in the play-off spots, which we’ve been striving for. I expect a good atmosphere, it’s a brand new ground. I’m waiting to see a response from my players.

“I say it week in week out, but this more than any other week I need that.

“They owe themselves a performance of character, of caring and of energy. The quality we have is there to see. But if they don’t show those characters we’ve been talking about , it means nothing.”

Alexander wants to see Town return to the kind of performances which saw them earn battling draws with league leaders Gillingham and Southend over the Easter weekend.

He said: “We’ve put in a shift this week on the training ground. Now they’ve got to tranfer it onto the pitch.

“We need to be more like we were against Gillingham and Southend – that was less than two weeks ago so I know we’ve got it in us.”

Jon Parkin missed out last Saturday through illness, a bug which also struck down coach Chris Lucketti and forced the half time substitution of Paul McKenna.

Parkin, along with McKenna has recovered and trained with the squad this week.

Nathan Pond is suspended for the trip to Yorkshire, having been sent off against Dale. Skipper Rob Atkinson could fill the gap at centre half. Shaun Beeley is also fit and available for selection, having spent the week working with the club’s fitness and physiotherapy staff.

The Millers come into tomorrow’s game on the back of a 4-1 victory over fellow promotion chasers Exeter City.

That win kept Steve Evans’ side in sixth spot, now seven points ahead of Fleetwood.

Former Blackpool front man Daniel Nardiello, an un-used substitute in Rotherham’s 1-1 draw at Highbury in November, was among the scorers against the Grecians, taking his tally to 18 for the season.

Alexander was at the New York Stadium to watch The Millers

He said: “They got off to a great start, scoring in the first 30 seconds and went on from there. They were pretty rampant at times and they’ve got some very good players.

“We know we’ve got to expect the same thing but we’re going there to get three points.”