Ashley Eastham and David Ball are ready to lock horns as Fleetwood Town travel to Bradford City

Fleetwood Town's Ashley Eastham
Fleetwood Town's Ashley Eastham
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Ashley Eastham has been giving Fleetwood Town’s new centre-half Harry Souttar the lowdown on how to deal with former team-mate David Ball on Saturday.

Souttar’s arrival on loan from Stoke City, coupled with an injury to Town captain Craig Morgan, meant he teamed up with Eastham for the 1-0 win against Charlton Athletic last week.

Town make the trip to Bradford for a reunion with Ball, who left Highbury for Rotherham United in 2017 but is currently on loan at Valley Parade.

It will not be the first time Eastham has come up against his old team-mate with Ball having figured for Rotherham against Town last season.

With that in mind, Eastham joked about the best way of dealing with him.

He said: “I will be explaining to Soutts how to deal with him because he is a tricky player.

“A little elbow in the back of the head early on will not do him any harm and we will have a little laugh about it afterwards!

“He’s the type of striker you have to be prepared for.

“He’s not the biggest in the air or the most physical but he runs hard and has really tidy feet.

“He tends to chop inside and play the intricate passes in the box and get the shots off.

“They are a good side and it seems like they are in a false position because they have a strong squad on paper.

“But there will be a form of weakness there that we can work on and look to capitalise.”

For his part, Ball admits that Eastham is a tough opponent to deal with.

“He is aggressive; he is an all-action defender who you want on your side,” Ball said.

“You’ve certainly got to be cute against people like Ash.

“He was a real big part of the success when I was at Fleetwood and I am looking forward to it.”

Ball also paid further tribute to some of his other former team-mates with Ash Hunter and Alex Cairns both coming in for praise.

He believes Hunter has blossomed under Joey Barton this season with seven goals and 12 assists so far.

“I think Ash was always one, while I was there, who was always a good player,” Ball said.

“He was a bit rough around the edges. I think, with the staff that have come in, they have nurtured him and it has been good for him.

“He seems to be growing of age really and, knowing what he is good at, he will be a problem for us at the weekend.”

As for Cairns, Ball hopes to spoil the keeper’s 100th appearance for Town by scoring against him for the first time since leaving Highbury.

“I certainly think he is up there with the best ones,” Ball said.

“He is one of the best goalkeepers I have seen with his feet.

“I know him really well and in terms of some of the saves he has made over the years he has been fantastic. He’s a top keeper for Fleetwood.”