Fleetwood no 'soft touch' for anyone says Simon Grayson ahead of Sunderland test

Fleetwood Town head coach Simon Grayson feels tonight’s opponents Sunderland are no different to the tough tests they face each week in League One.

By Tom Sandells
Tuesday, 23rd February 2021, 8:00 am

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Town start a run of four successive Tuesday fixtures tonight (7pm) following Saturday’s 1-1 home draw with Charlton Athletic.

Like Charlton, Sunderland are chasing promotion but Grayson feels all the clubs in the division are taking note of the Cod Army.

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Harrison Holgate has played in all four Fleetwood games since Simon Grayson took charge

He said: “It was a massive examination for us on Saturday because Charlton are in and around the play-offs. Every game is difficult and brings obstacles.

“Sunderland are a team in good form at the moment and tipped to try to get back into the Championship, but it’s no more difficult than playing Accrington here next Saturday or going to Lincoln the following Tuesday because they are all in and around it.

“But I said pre-match that other teams will be thinking Fleetwood aren’t a soft touch and have some good players, so we’re pleased with what we’re doing.

“You’re very respectful of the opposition and the individuals you are playing against, but we concentrate on what we need to do and we’ll go to Sunderland looking to pick up three points.”

Charlie Mulgrew missed Saturday’s game after a positive Covid test and Grayson selected a youthful backline as James Hill and Harrison Holgate featured in Town’s back three.

Holgate has made a strong early impression on Grayson, featuring in all four games under the new boss, while Hill got his first chance to impress the new head coach last weekend.

The duo were paired regularly by Joey Barton – the new Bristol Rovers manager – in the early weeks of the season.

Grayson added: “I’m really delighted with them because Jayden Stockley (Charlton’s goalscorer on loan from Preston North End) is a handful.

“He’s a throwback centre forward, who throws his body around and wants to get on the end of crosses.

“James played before I got here and had a tough time against MK Dons but has worked hard in training.

“Harrison has been in the team ever since I’ve been here and they have done really well. That’s a testament to them as individuals and to the football club for bringing them through the system.

“They both have a lot of work in front of them but they certainly have the raw ingredients, and they have the heart and soul to be really good defenders.”

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