FLEETWOOD Town defender Rob Atkinson will be out of action ‘for months’ with a broken ankle.
That is the latest blow to hit the injury-ravaged Fleetwood squad on the eve of tonight’s televised clash with Lincoln City at Sincil Bank.
Town manager Micky Mellon reflected ruefully: “We thought the injury was ankle ligaments at first, but X-rays have shown that it is a fracture and we are talking about months for him.
“He joins the ‘magnificent 11’, who are already injured.”
Atkinson’s injury, sustained in the 4-1 capitulation at Highbury against Newport County on Tuesday night, is the latest in a series of setbacks.
And it has forced Mellon into the loan market as he has recruited Crawley Town pair Charlie Wassmer and Glenn Wilson to plug the gaps.
The arrival of the pair has been brought about because of the good relations between Mellon and Crawley boss Steve Evans.
The Fleetwood manager said: “We have to thank Steve because at this stage of the season, when teams have so many games, it is difficult to get players in.”
Mellon said that in training for the Lincoln match he only had 16 fit first-team players, and he was glad to be boosted by the arrival of the Crawley defenders, who will move up to the area from Sussex while their extended loan period at Fleetwood takes place.
Mellon said the two players had chosen Town as an option rather than move to another Blue Square Premier or Football League side and he was delighted with their attitude in preferring to link up with Fleetwood a long way from their base.
Wassmer is only 19, but he is a highly regarded young defender.
Mellon said: “Wassmer was probably one of the best central defenders in the division last season.
“He is quick and good in the air, and he is one of those players who just wants to defend, which is what you like to see.”
Mellon stressed the versatility of Wilson as an invaluable asset.
“Wilson was in the Crawley team that won the title last year and can play anywhere across the back four.”
Evans has insisted that he wants both Wassmer and Wilson back at the club once their three-month loan periods come to an end.
The Crawley boss said: “Charlie and Glenn need game time at first-team level and they will get that with this move.
“They are very good players and these loan moves are in their interest.
“We will monitor their performances closely and I can state here now that both will be coming back and have a big future at Crawley Town.”
Mellon expects Fleetwood to bounce back tonight from the dispiriting reverse at the hands of Newport, which was marred by defensive lapses and the sending-off of striker Gareth Seddon after picking up two yellow cards.
Seddon had earlier put Fleetwood in front, but his night turned sour with the dismissal.
The striker serves a one-match ban and could also incur a club fine.
Mellon said: “It has not just cost us the game, but it means he is suspended from the next match and with the injury situation it has killed us.
“Seddon is upset at what happened, but we will deal the matter internally.”
The Fleetwood squad were made to sit through a DVD of the numbing Newport defeat, and Mellon hopes that the lessons learned from that match will be rammed home.
Mellon said: “Every credit to Newport because they were more committed than our players all over the pitch.
“They beat us to every loose ball or challenge and every knockdown – that is what made us so angry over the way we performed.
“There are players in the side who have never experienced what it is like to be in third place in the Conference, and now we will find out whether they can deal with that.”
Lincoln’s side includes Lytham-born goalkeeper Joe Anyon, who had League experience with both the Red Imps and Port Vale – Anyon was capped by England at under-16 level.
The Red Imps are on the look-out for a new manager after the sacking of Steve Tilson earlier in the week.
Grant Brown was put in temporary charge of the club that lost Football League status last season and the side responded with a 3-1 win at Alfreton in midweek.
The Lincoln v Fleetwood clash will be screened live on the Premier Sports satellite channel.
n AFC Fylde are at home to Farsley tomorrow.
Squires Gate are at Runcorn Town, while AFC Blackpool visit Winsford.