Tonight sees the Blues take their first step into the new Covid-19 competitive football environment as they take on League One outfit Fleetwood Town in the first of three round robin fixtures in this season’s EFL Trophy competition.
Speaking about the game, boss Chris Beech said: “It’s special. I think it’s great Fleetwood and ourselves have decided to go early on it.
“It’s just great to be back, I’m really looking forward to tonight and Saturday. I’ve put the handbrake on myself a little bit because there is always so much focus on the first game of the season, and you can forget that there are so many after it.
“The first game is important, but the whole season is important. I’m very excited for it, I’m looking forward to seeing the players and I want us to be in a position when the fans come back that we’ve got something exciting to show them.”
“Everyone in the dressing room wants to be in the starting team,” he continued. “There are great commitments from the lads to move to the area, so it feels more like we’re representing the club because we’re living here and being here.
“It does feel different, because of the situation, and it will be better when the fans are here. That’s what our sport is all about and having the fans back is something to really look forward to.
“In the meantime we have to do our best to represent them in the way they want us to. That’s why every game is vital. The Trophy fixture and Carabao Cup are vital games, I want to win, but at the same time we have to make sure we come through with the strength of the season too.
“I definitely want to be competitive and winning games, but we have to be mindful of making sure we can be in a good place when we play Cambridge.”
As to what we can expect from Fleetwood, having played them so recently, he commented: “I think they’re still building. This is what’s strange about this season, because the transfer window doesn’t shut until October.
“They might sign five players before the game. They might not play what you’d call first choice players as it’s a Trophy fixture. Or Joey might play those players because it’s an outstanding situation to play his best team. Who knows?
“What I do know is that Joey Barton and his team are very competitive. They’ve signed Callum Camps, who I remember at the age of 12 or13 when he was training at Rochdale. It will be good to see him, if he’s playing.”
With the EFL Trophy offering an attainable route to a Wembley final, he told us: “That end result seems too far away.
“I’ve been there, I wasn’t on the first team staff, but Rochdale got there in the play-offs. I went there as a young lad as well, Blackpool got there in the play-offs, but I was only 16 and not in the squad.
“It would be brilliant to try and get to Wembley. I know the competition’s been fantastic for this club in the past, but there’s a long way to go before we can start talking about that.”
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