Saturday’s trip to Southend comes too soon for Fleetwood Town skipper Craig Morgan but boss Joey Barton is hopeful that star striker Ched Evans and midfielder Dean Marney will be back in contention.
Captain Morgan, 34, limped off with a hamstring issue in the 1-1 draw at Sunderland and missed last weekend’s 1-1 draw with Accrington Stanley.
Barton says the centre-half will also miss the trip to Roots Hall but has better news on Evans, who also missed the Stanley clash.
Evans was not risked for the Lancashire derby. The forward picked up niggle, then only returned to Town’s Poolfoot Farm training base on Thursday due to a virus.
Marney (groin) and attacker Conor McAleny (hamstring) also limped off in that Accrington game.
Barton says McAleny is struggling for this weekend, when Wes Burns will complete his three-game suspension following a red card in the 2-1 win over Bradford.
The head coach says he will not select anyone who is not fully fit due to the strength of his squad.
Barton said: “Ched has been off ill this week. Thursday was his first day back in the building after a little bit of a virus and a niggle that saw him miss the Accrington game.
“McAleny has a little bit of a niggle, so I think he might be struggling for Saturday.
“Saturday is far too soon for Morgs. Marns should be fine and Ched should be back in contention, but the flipside is that you want fully fit players.
“We have good players here, so if people are not fully fit they will not play.
“You need to be fully fit to play the way we want to play.
“You can’t play with knocks and niggles unless there is nobody else.
“We have a good squad, with players I would trust to deliver performances.
“Hopefully we have got a few bodies coming back into the group in the next couple of days, but if not we pick a team to get a positive result at Southend.”
Barton will not be having a reunion with ex-Burnley team-mate Michael Kightly as the Shrimpers winger is suspended.
Southend are 18th with seven points, though Barton is not underestimating Chris Powell’s side.
He said: “I know they lost at Shrewsbury on Saturday but we have watched their games. They could have easily picked up points there and they created chances.
“They have some good players in their team, players who have played at a higher level, the likes of Simon Cox.
“We have got to be a lot better than we were last weekend against Accrington if we want to take maximum points from the game.”