Players must prove their worth - Dunn

Reporter: Matthew Chambers
Date published: 29 October 2015

SHOW me what you’ve got — that’s the message handed out by Athletic to those players fighting to get back into the starting line-up, starting with the visit of Burton Albion.

With Daniel Lafferty (shoulder) and Mike Jones (ankle) definitely ruled out of Saturday’s clash, manager David Dunn watched his reserves side in action at Fleetwood with special interest.

“It gives other players the opportunity to come in and show me what they have got,” said Dunn, in reference to the double injury blow sustained last week at Rochdale.

“Most of our players are out of contract at the end of the season so they have the chance to prove they are worth a new one.”

There is promise of selection headaches in the medium term, too, with strike duo Jake Cassidy and Jonathan Forte making steady progress.

Former Wolves man Cassidy — who broke a bone and damaged ankle ligaments during Athletic’s last home win, against Fleetwood — could be back in the fray as soon as mid-November, with Forte’s recovery from a knee operation forecast to see him return before the start of the new year.

“Jake is maybe two or three weeks from being ready,” Dunn said. “He will see the specialist to get the go-ahead to step things up, which is positive, and Jonathan Forte will be back around Christmas time.”

Joseph Mills took to the field yesterday for the first time since the Peterborough mauling after recovering from an ankle problem.

Lee Croft and Mark Yeates were also in the starting line-up for a Lancashire Cup tie in which Athletic progressed following a penalty shoot-out.

Richard Eckersley and Mills appear to be battling for Lafferty’s spot — the on-loan full-back has a suspected crack in a shoulder and is back at Burnley — while with Jones awaiting news from a scan on the long-term damage, there is a vacancy on the left of midfield that Croft and Yeates are vying for.

Also in the side yesterday was striker Ricardo Fuller and he netted before Ashley Hunter took the game to penalties with a late equaliser, with Athletic earning passage to the semi-finals thanks to a strike by goalkeeper Joel Coleman which earned a 7-6 shoot-out win.

And there was a place in the reserves, too, for former Stoke City academy centre-back Theo Vassell.

He has spent the last few weeks training with Athletic and having stood out with his physicality and ability on the ball, is expected to tie up a contract soon.