Fleetwood Town have been linked with Ched Evans but boss Joey Barton believes that in Conor McAleny he already has a striker who can repeat the feats of last season’s League One show-stopper Nick Powell.
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Fifteen-goal Powell was named in the League One team of the year as his scintillating form helped Paul Cook’s Wigan to clinch the title.
And Barton believes he has a player with the potential to be the best in the league when the season kicks off in a fortnight.
Liverpudlian McAleny will be close to home tomorrow, when Town visit League Two newcomers Tranmere Rovers for a friendly.
The Everton academy product’s first Town season was disrupted by a foot injury but he still managed 29 League appearances, the highest total of his career, and scored five times.
McAleny, 26 next month, suffered a knock on Town’s tour in Hungary last week but had recovered to play in the win over Zalaegerszeg TE on Saturday.
Town flew home the following day and now McAleny, who scored in this summer’s first two warm-games against Southport and Salford City, is looking forward to more minutes on the Wirral tomorrow.
And Barton, who has seen his side win all five pre-season matches, said: “Everyone knows how good a player Conor is. It is just getting him into his groove.
“For me, when he gets into his groove he can be easily the best player in this league.
“You saw Nick Powell last year for Wigan and I think Conor has that ability.”
Fellow striker Paddy Madden is Town’s top pre-season scorer with three but Barton says the goalscoring burden should not rest solely on the strikers’ shoulders.
He believes his side will need to score 70-80 goals to win promotion. Last season’s top two, Wigan and Blackburn Rovers, scored 89 and 82 respectively.
Fleetwood, who netted 59 and finished 14th, haven’t had a 20-goal man since Jamie Vardy in 2011-12. It’s why Barton is looking to add to his strikeforce and has been linked with Preston’s Eoin Doyle and Sheffield United’s Evans, both of whom have bagged 20 in a League One campaign.
Madden also fits the bill for Barton, who said: “Paddy has scored bundles and bundles of goals all through his career.
“We have got to get 70-80 if we are going to get promotion and they have got to come from all areas of the team.
“The whole team has got to weigh in.”