Joey Barton hailed Peter Clarke on a “superb” return to the Town defence but admitted Ash Eastham was unfortunate to lose his place for the draw with Gillingham.
READ MORE: Fleetwood could be serious contenders says Barton
It was veteran Clarke’s first League One appearance for Fleetwood since September and came at a time when Eastham looked to be re-establishing himself as first-choice partner for Harry Souttar at the heart of Town’s defence.
Head coach Barton said: “Clarkey was superb but Ash Eastham was unlucky.
“I spoke to Ash during the week and it was just that we were going to a back three as opposed to a back four.
“I thought Clarkey in the middle of the back three used his experience, his anticipation his voice and communication. I thought he was outstanding.
“Gillingham are a handful up front and you get a thorough examination.”
And Barton expects more of the same at Rotherham on Saturday, which bodes well for Clarke’s chances of retaining his place.
The Town boss added: We’ll get the same at Rotherham against a big, physical side.
“They have big boys in that team, and we will have to stand up and put heads and bodies on the line to protect our goal against a good side who are chasing promotion.”
Despite his initial disappointment at failing to beat the Gills, Barton admits the point could prove vital.
He added: “It was a point gained because Ipswich lost at home, Coventry lost, Doncaster lost and Portsmouth lost at Accy. This table is wide open. It must be a nightmare for any punter to do a coupon in our league.”