Stephen Crainey: 'Great experience' can only help young Fleetwood players

Stephen Crainey hopes Fleetwood Town’s younger players will become more resilient as a result of the exposure they are getting to first-team football.

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In stark contrast to previous campaigns, Town have used a much younger squad this season.

In the past, the club has brought in established professionals who have played at higher levels: players such as Paul Coutts and Glenn Whelan.

Paddy Lane, one of the outstanding young players at Fleetwood this season, celebrates his goal against Plymouth on Tuesday

However, the 2021/22 season has seen Town use 14 players aged 23 and under with a total of 151 appearances between them.

There has been a clear shift towards focusing on the academy, though it has hardly been plain sailing at times.

Town have had to deal with a number of injuries as well as a Covid-19 outbreak within the camp at the turn of the year.

Head coach Crainey hopes the challenges his young players have been forced to overcome will set them up to have good careers in the future.

He said: “It’s a great experience for them from an early age. If they can take it on board and move forward, I’d be delighted for them.

“The younger lads were good again at the weekend (a 2-0 loss at Charlton Athletic) but it was disappointing to lose the game because I don’t think we deserved to lose it.

“We want to develop young players at the football club. That’s what we’re doing and we will continue to do that.

“If they can get the experience here, as a young player and as a footballer in general, everything is not going to be rosy.

“You’re going to get setbacks and it’s how you bounce back from it. It’s important how these young players learn to bounce back.

“Games in League One make them robust for the future. Hopefully they learn from it and take it into the coming games.”

Town are now dealing with the final week of the January transfer window.

Zak Jules, Ellis Harrison and Toto Nsiala have all joined this month, James Hill having departed.

Adding to the squad is on Crainey’s mind, though he maintains nothing is imminent. He said: “We’re not close to bringing anyone in at the moment but we are still looking. We’ll see what develops between now and the end of the window.”

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