Big changes for town

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‘FULL Max’ Fleetwood Town manager Graham Alexander, revelling in his brief spell in charge at Highbury, says he will be looking to augment his squad by ‘one or two’ in the January transfer window.

And he has already had inquiries from other clubs inquiring about whether any of the current Town players will be available for loan next month.

Alexander, preparing for tomorrow’s League Two trip to Oxford United, explained the basic principle behind any dealing during the window would be to add variety to the squad.

He said: “We have got a lot of players in the squad, some of which are very similar, so we need to get a little bit of variation, though I would not like to say any particular position.

“But we have got some very good players in the squad and I am impressed with their quality and the commitment they have shown.

“There may be one or two coming in during January, but nothing major.

Some decisions will have to be made soon by Alexander, such as whether any attempt is made to extend Barry Ferguson’s loan spell from Blackpool and such issues as whether striker Danny Rowe will extend his spell at Conference side Stockport County.

Alexander said: “At present we are evaluating the players we have and it will be a question of doing our homework on the players who are away from the club on loan.”

This is just one of the roles that Alexander is tackling with relish since taking over from Micky Mellon, who was sacked.

He said: “I am loving it, every aspect, training, picking the team, all the business away from football that you have to deal with, recruiting players, all of it.

“I am going at it full max.”

The Oxford match will be Alexander’s third in charge, and there are no fresh injury concerns, apart from long-term casualties, Anthony Barry, Jon Parkin and Andy Mangan.

It has been a long spell on the sidelines for Barry, who has been out for the best part of two seasons with knee problems.

The Fleetwood manager said: “Anthony has been able to train for a limited period, but we are taking our time with him as he has been out for such a long while.

“It is looking very encouraging, but I can’t say yet when he may be ready to return and will leave that to the physios.”

Alexander has ultimate respect for Oxford, who lie 18th in the League Two table, but eight points clear of the relegation positions.

The Fleetwood boss reckons this is not a true reflection of the side’s ability.

“I don’t think it is a realistic position for them and we know the qualities they have.

“Oxford spent a long time out of the League, which was a big blow to them - Chris Wilder is a very experienced manager who knows the game how to prepare his team.

“We know it will be tough.”

Oxford were in midweek FA Cup action when they booked their passage to the third round for the first time in a decade when they scored a 2-0 home win over League Two rivals Accrington Stanley.

They won the right to meet Sheffield United after goals by James Constable and Peter Leven - Fleetwood had a scout at the tie.

Tomorrow’s visit of Fleetwood to the Kassam Stadium could see an appearance by veteran U’s defender Michael Duberry, the former Chelsea and Leeds man coming on as a substitute after being sidelined for six months with a neck injury.

Oxford had been due to play an FA Youth Cup tie against Barnsley on Wednesday night, but the match was called off because of a waterlogged pitch.

Oxford share their ground with the London Welsh rugby union side.

Fleetwood say they have had no notification of any problems about the match not going ahead and that they expect to play, believing that any call-off of the FA Youth Cup match was to keep the pitch in a state of readiness for Saturday.

The state of the surface has been a source of concern to Oxford this week.

U’s assistant manager Mickey Lewis said an ankle injury suffered by Adam Chapman in the Accrington match was as a direct result of pitch conditions.

Home striker Jon-Paul Pittman will miss tomorrow’s clash because of a long-term shoulder injury.