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Coley: We've got to do everything we can to get out of this fight

Stanley manager John Coleman looks ahead to this Saturday's game against Tranmere Rovers

5 March 2020

Accrington Stanley manager John Coleman is fully aware that his side are still in a relegation fight and that they will have to be at their best to overcome Micky Mellon's Tranmere Rovers on Saturday.

The Reds will be without Mark Hughes after the centre-back was ruled out until the end of the season with a calf injury, and Coleman admits that his loss will be a big one on the team.

"The good thing about him is that he's around the place and he's not one of them who just won't turn up, so he'll be giving the lads advice and he's a good character.

"He's a really good lad as well but it is a blow to the team because he's a good footballer and he's probably the best ball-playing centre-half in the league, so we are going to miss him."

Harvey Rodgers was drafted into the team in absence of Hughes, and Coleman felt as though the 23-year-old grew into last Saturday's game as it went on.

"People have to step up to the plate and Harvey grew into the game on Saturday, it was always going to be difficult for him because he hasn't played as a centre-half for a while.

"It was going to be tough and the conditions weren't the best either, but I thought he stuck to the task well and he finished the game very strongly."

Despite both being younger than 24, the experience within Stanley's defence will now have to come from Callum Johnson and Ross Sykes, with Coleman also speaking very highly of the latter.

"I think at this moment it's the players who have played the most games, Callum has played a lot of games and so has Ross.

"In terms of experience, they've had a lot of football behind them so they've now got to use that experience.

"I've seen Ross grow up in the last couple of years and the one thing I will say about Ross is that whatever he gets in life he'll have worked hard for, and he lives his life as a model professional.

"He's giving himself the best available chance and he's an absolute credit to his family, he's a smashing lad and he's great to have around the place."

Coleman's side secured an away point against Bolton Wanderers in their last outing and the Reds boss was pleased with the way his side improved as the game progressed.

"The clean sheet was good but we've got to improve from what we did in the first half, that's probably the worse I've seen our team play in a few years.

"We're really pleased that they responded in the second half, and what you do see about our players is that they keep going right until the end."

This weekend's visitors have secured back-to-back promotions and Coleman thinks that Mellon should be congratulated for all that he has achieved with Tranmere.

"Micky should be congratulated for that because he's assembled a lot of good players and Tranmere are a big club, you've only got to  look at their stadium and they've got a lovely training ground.

"Micky is a good manager, he knows his eggs and I'm looking forward to having a drink with him after the game on Saturday.

"We've done our homework on Tranmere, we know they can be a dangerous side and they had a great win away at Shrewsbury Town.

"They've got players who can hurt you but we've also got players who can hurt them, so we've got to focus on getting ourselves right."

Stanley currently sit 14 points clear of the relegation zone, but Coleman is fully aware that his team are still in a fight to avoid the drop.

"Until we're safe, you've always got to be mindful to get enough points on the board to make sure that you're not in the fight.

"At this moment we are in a relegarion battle and a lot of other teams are as well, so we've got to do everything we can to get out of this fight."

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