Morecambe boss will take Papa John's Trophy seriously going into Everton clash
Stephen Robinson says he won’t be taking the Papa John’s Trophy lightly as Morecambe begin their group stage matches tonight.
The Shrimps welcome Everton’s youngsters to the Mazuma Stadium (7pm) for the first of their three group ties.
A trip to Hartlepool United comes on October 5, followed by a home game against Carlisle United on November 9.
It’s a competition in which the Shrimps have previously reached the Northern section quarter-final, semi-final and final.
They haven’t had a particularly good record since the tournament’s rebrand in 2016, when 16 Premier League or Championship Under-21 sides joined the 48 clubs from Leagues One and Two.
Having progressed to the second round in the first year, the last four seasons have seen Morecambe exit at the end of the group stage.
While the manager acknowledges there may be some shuffling of his line-up, he challenged those who may be brought in to grab their chance with both hands.
“We want to progress as far as we can,” Robinson said.
“We will always use it to give game time to senior professionals and young boys like Connor Pye, who has been excellent for us in pre-season.
“We will treat it with the respect it deserves but it does give people opportunities to play and show that nobody’s place is safe or guaranteed.
“You look at someone like Alfie McCalmont, who played for Northern Ireland’s first team the other week.
“He played an hour against Sheffield Wednesday but Adam Phillips came on, took his place, and was outstanding.”
Whoever features against Everton tonight will be charged with ensuring there isn’t a repeat of the defensive issues that saw the Shrimps beaten 4-3 by AFC Wimbledon at the weekend.
All four of the visitors’ goals at the Mazuma Stadium came by way of set pieces, leaving Morecambe contemplating a second home league defeat of the season.
It was especially galling for Robinson, given he had warned of the Dons’ ability from set pieces and spent the international break working on ways for his players to combat that threat,
He said: “It doesn’t matter what level, it doesn’t matter if it’s League One, League Two, National League, Premier League, if you don’t defend properly from set plays you’ll get beaten.
“Ultimately, they scored four set plays so we have to defend better than that.
“You have to be a defender first and foremost, the boys that made the mistakes are better than they showed if the truth be told and made poor decisions that got punished – and at this level, that’s what happens.
“Every defeat’s hard to take but the manner of the defeat – four set plays – it will be a sleepless few days.”
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