Fleetwood Town coach Clint Hill has high hopes for Jimmy Dunne after joking he was preparing to come out of retirement to boost their central defensive numbers.
The 40-year-old had hung up his boots last summer to join Joey Barton’s coaching staff at Highbury.
However, Town’s defensive ranks have been depleted with former skipper Craig Morgan leaving the club on Monday.
With Stoke City loan star Harry Souttar on international duty with Australia, it leaves Burnley loanee Dunne battling it out with Ash Eastham and Peter Clarke for a starting spot against Oxford United today.
Having ruled himself out of any return, Hill is keen for Dunne to show his ability.
He said: “I was going to get the boots back on but I said ‘no leave it!’
“He’s (Dunne) pretty much right foot but he has got a good left foot on him.
“He is very aggressive, at all the other clubs he has been at people have spoken highly of him.
“The gaffer knows him from his time at Burnley.
“We are looking for him to come in and just do what he does well.
“That is being aggressive, win headers, first contacts, and anything else is a bonus.”
Town have only kept one clean sheet in their opening eight games.
That’s a statistic Hill wants to change but he admitted that responsibility is a team effort.
He said: “We always want clean sheets, we always demand that.
“In general I don’t think we are conceding a lot of chances, we just seem to be getting punished by the odd one.
“While we are reducing major chances, teams seem to be nicking things.
“It is something we look to rectify but it is not just a defender’s issue, it is a team issue.”
Town go into the game on the back of their midweek EFL Trophy defeat at Accrington Stanley, for which Barton had made five changes.
Wes Burns was stretchered off in that game with a shin injury but is back walking, while Conor McAleny (ankle) and Jack Sowerby (leg) are also doubts.
Although Souttar is also unavailable, Barton has competition across the board and Hill challenged those starting players to keep their spots.
He said: “I think every game you go out into you have to play well because there is so much quality on the bench and not even in the squad that, if you do not perform to the level required, then you face that question of not playing the next game.
“We have a healthy squad, good competition.
“The lads who have the shirts at the minute need to keep doing everything right and then the shirt is theirs.
“As soon as performance levels drop they could find themselves out of the team for a long while.”