FLEETWOOD Town skipper Stephen McNulty needs a fitness test before he can take his place in defence for tomorrow’s eagerly-awaited derby clash with Morecambe at the Globe Arena.
McNulty had been pencilled in to play for Fleetwood in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy clash at Rochdale on Tuesday, but the rugged defender hurt a groin in training, so missing the Spotland clash.
Northern Ireland international Damien Johnson should be fit to play following a neck injury, while Dean Howell is available again after serving a one-match ban for his sending-off in the 4-1 win over Aldershot last Saturday, when he handled the ball on the line and was red-carded.
Manager Micky Mellon is relishing tomorrow’s League Two cracker, which pits the Cod Army against the Shrimps.
The Fleetwood boss said: “Derby matches like that are what we look forward to, and there will be a number of them this season, which is great for the area.
“As managers, we get on very well together, and there is no animosity between the clubs, but plenty of competition, which is how it should be. It’s good to test ourselves against sides like Morecambe, because it was only a short time ago that we were light years behind them. We want to close the gap that has existed in the past with sides like Morecambe, Rochdale and Accrington.
“Morecambe will be a difficult place to go and play, and they will be very organised and competitive.
“It will be a tough test, but then we are well capable of getting something out of the game as well.”
The Morecambe ranks include loan striker Richard Brodie, who had a season at Highbury in 2011-12, and defender Will Haining, who had a spell on loan with Fleetwood.
Morecambe have yet to win in the league at the Globe Arena, but they beat Blackpool in the League Cup at Bloomfield Road, as well as defeating Exeter City on their travels, and last Saturday shocking Bristol Rovers with a 3-0 away win.
Mellon appreciates how well sixth-placed Morecambe have done under manager Jim Bentley, but says he is more than content with Fleetwood’s current placing (eighth).
He said: “I am happy with how things have gone, and I will be ecstatic if we beat Morecambe. Even though we made eight changes for the Rochdale match, we played some really good football.”
Fleetwood drew 2-2 with Rochdale in Tuesday’s cup-tie, but missed out in the penalty shoot-out.
Mellon said: “We didn’t actually lose the game, and any team can lose in a penalty shoot-out – Manchester United could lose out to Fleetwood in a penalty shoot-out.” Morecambe will be without striker Danny Carlton tomorrow. He is out of action for seven months after suffering cruciate ligament damage during the win at Bristol.
“He was looking sharp in training and was doing well on Saturday when he came on but pulled up with the injury, which is one that most players dread.
“I’m devastated for him, because he probably won’t be back in contention until February at the earliest, and that is a blow for him and for us as we have such a small squad.’’ Bentley said: “We have had two fantastic away wins and we are all desperate to repeat that sort of result at home.
“I think our performances at the Globe have been good, and when I look back at the videos, we should really have won both games. the longer we go without a win, the more people will keep asking questions.
“Our away form has been good for the past 18 months or so, and there is no doubt that if we can get it right at home we could have a really good season.”
Haining, Robbie Threlfall, Andy Parrish and Gary McDonald, who were missing through injury on Tuesday when Morecambe beat Accrington 2-0, all have good chances of a return to action.