Fleetwood boss Steven Pressley has challenged Antoni Sarcevic to stretch himself and help kick-start Town’s scoring form.
Town have struggled in front of goal in recent weeks – Saturday’s blank in a 2-0 FA Cup defeat at Walsall the latest in a frustrating run.
Pressley’s men have another cup test this evening – Sheffield United visitors to Highbury in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy northern quarter-final – and the Town manager is hoping his midfield enforcer can extend his influence.
Sarcevic set a new record under Pressley for yards covered in that defeat at the Bescot. But Town’s manager wants even more from the 23-year-old.
He believes the stats being recorded by players like Sarcevic show Town’s philosophy of high, pressing football is taking root.
But that, says the tough-talking Scot, must just be the start. He said: “What was very interesting was the data on their physical performances at the weekend.
“Sarcevic’s was absolutely through the roof. That pleases me – it shows we’re improving in that regard.
“It shows there’s a real buy-in and we just have to turn that into results. We have to turn the efforts and positive signs we’re making into wins.”
Sarcevic arrived at Fleetwood as a flair midfielder, his first season ending with a goal at Wembley to seal promotion.
Since making the step up to League One, the Manchester-born player has been asked to play a deeper role.
But Pressley now wants him to rediscover his attacking form, looking to tap into Sarcevic’s hunger and determination.
“Sarcevic’s workrate at the weekend was astounding,” he said. “I told him that.
“The data on distance covered was the highest on any player since our fitness coach started working on the stats.
“It was a phenomenal performance in that sense, but I told him I want him to break that record now. He’s set it, but now I want him to break it.
“He has defensive responsibilities, which he takes really seriously, but he also has the ability to break forward and arrive in the box – something I don’t want to take away because it’s a big part of his game.
“To be able to do that you have to be at the top level of your fitness.
“It’s coming but I want it to be even better. I don’t ever want there to be a point where he’s satisfied.”
Town will be without Conor McLaughlin, who is away with Northern Ireland, but welcome back Dionotan Teixeira, who was not given permission by parent club Stoke to play on Saturday.
Pressley has no fresh injury worries ahead of this evening’s cup clash.