Joey Barton says the signing of Callum Connolly has boosted an area where his Fleetwood Town squad was lacking.
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The young midfielder, who is also able to play in defence, arrived on Monday on loan from Everton until the end of the season.
The 22-year-old spent the first half of the season on loan at Lincoln City, which disappointed Barton at the time as he felt Town had a gentleman’s agreement with Everton for a loan deal.
Barton is glad to have his man now and thinks he can step up in place of Rangers loanee Jordan Rossiter, who suffered a knee ligament injury in November.
The head coach said: “We lost Jordan Rossiter and I see Callum as a replacement for Jordy, who is going to miss the season.
“He’s due to have his operation this week and then he will get back on the road to recovery.
“We’ve lost two centre-halves (Peter Clarke and Jimmy Dunne) and our maverick in Ash Hunter, who’s gone on loan to Salford.
“Where we started the season and where we are in this moment in time, we’re a little bit short.
“We were tracking Callum all through the summer and there was an agreement between Everton and Lincoln that he went there.
“You don’t want to say, ‘I told you so’, but I thought he was better suited to our style of play.
“It didn’t quite work out for Cal there.
“Not long after he got there the manager (Danny Cowley) left to go to Huddersfield.
“That’s not always easy because the manager that brings you in to a club usually supports you and gives you game-time.
“He never got that but their loss is our benefit.”
Barton believes that the pedigree of the former Ipswich Town and Wigan Athletic man brings, coupled with his personality, will make him a good fit at Highbury.
“We’ve got a really good player,” he added, “with 80- plus Championship appearances. He’s just a player that suits us perfectly.
“He’s coming in as an underdog. We see ourselves now as the underdogs because if you look at the top 12 in the division, probably us and Wycombe are the smallest outfits.
“We want to foster this underdog mentality. We do feel it’s Fleetwood against the world because no-one expects us to get into the Championship.
“It would be a huge upset if we were able to do that this season but we’re right in the shake-up.”