Friday night’s game against Burton Albion had looked make-or-break for our play-off hopes, however, results on Saturday have conspired to hand us another roll of the dice in this upcoming home game against Fleetwood Town. With injuries and suspensions starting to pile up, the concern is that Friday’s defeat augurs another of the cold streaks that have dampened our play-off hopes. Bouncing back to winning ways in this game would provide a vital shot in the arm at a crucial stage of the season.
With Maxime Biamou, Jodi Jones, Conor Chaplin, Jordan Ponticelli, Charlie Wakefield and Zain Westbrooke all already out, the loss of Dominic Hyam for the foreseeable future after a car crash last week was compounded on Friday night by Bright Enobakhare picking up a silly red card and one-game suspension, while both Jordan Willis and Brandon Mason were clearly struggling for fitness towards the end of the game.
It leaves Mark Robins potentially with a very thin squad and having to throw in some inexperienced youngsters for an important game. At centre-back, there could well be an opportunity for one of Jordon Thompson, Morgan Williams or Declan Drysdale to stake a claim for a first-team place ahead of next season – although Robins might be tempted to stick with Jordan Willis even if he’s not at 100% fitness. At left-back, Sam McCallum could be given a third league start, although Junior Brown’s return to the bench on Friday night suggests that he’s back in Mark Robins’ plans.
Elsewhere, the attacking rejig to accommodate Bright Enobakhare’s suspension will be of keen interest. David Meyler coming into the side and Tom Bayliss pushing forward is possibly the most logical choice – particularly if we have to play an inexperienced centre-back – however, Bayliss has shown thus far in this career that he’s much less of an influence on the game in a more advanced position. That consideration could well see Jordan Shipley started instead – either as part of a three-man central midfield or on the left with Jordy Hiwula pushed forward to play alongside Amadou Bakayoko up top.