Friend Becomes Foe For Evatt As Wanderers Look To Progress

Ian Evatt is looking forward to an old boys’ reunion tonight and hopes he’s the one still on course for another trip to Wembley at the end.

Evatt’s Wanderers take on Fleetwood Town in the last-32 of the Papa John’s EFL Trophy on Tuesday evening (KO 7pm).

The Whites’ boss will come up against former Blackpool team-mate Stephen Crainey, who has stepped up from his role as U23s’ boss to taken over as Town’s interim manager following the departure of Simon Grayson.

Grayson signed Evatt for Blackpool but it was under Ian Holloway that Evatt and Scotland international Crainey - as well as current Wanderers' goalkeeper Matt Gilks - helped the Tangerines reach the Premier League via a 2010 Championship play-off final win at Wembley.

“I feel for any manager losing his job. I’m a bit torn with it all. I played under Simon and I know Simon very well,” said Evatt.

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“He’s a really good guy and I’m gutted he’s lost his job but I’m also really pleased for Stephen Crainey, who’s an ex-team-mate of mine and a good friend.

“I played alongside Stephen for many years. He’s a fantastic guy, a great character and knows the game really well.

“He’s been given an opportunity to take it on, for now, and I hope he does really well - apart from the back-to-back games we’ve got with them.”

Wanderers go to Fleetwood in League One next Tuesday night will be looking to move within one game of the Trophy quarter-finals first and keep alive their hopes of going all the way to Wembley.

With a lengthy injury list, Wanderers could arguably have done without an eighth game this month.

But Evatt’s men have lost only twice in November and will be aiming to stretch their unbeaten home run to six games against a Fleetwood side which drew 2-2 at AFC Wimbledon in Crainey’s first game at the helm to stay in the bottom three.

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“We can only really go off the one game he’s had in charge. He got a good result down at Wimbledon, so we’ll do the prep we need,” added Evatt, who could hand a chance to some of Wanderers’ youth-team players.

“But the most important thing is we focus on ourselves and focus on the job we’re going to do and make sure we’re good at it.

“And if we do that, no matter what team I put out I think it’s good enough to compete and win the game.

“We’re never going to be too disappointed that we’re still in a cup competition.

“It gives us a chance to get to Wembley. I was very fortunate that I played at Wembley quite a few times and I’ve told the players it’s something you remember for the rest of your life.

“It will be great for them to try and do that and great for our fans – who have suffered – to have a trip to Wembley,

so we’ll give it our best shot.”

To buy tickets right up until kick-off, go HERE

For the manager’s full pre-match interview, click HERE

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