Fleetwood Town boss Joey Barton praised the professionalism of midfielder Kyle Dempsey after his cameo in Saturday’s 1-0 win over Burton Albion.
Barton had been critical of Dempsey a week earlier due to the length of time he took to come off the bench in the 2-0 defeat at Luton.
The 23-year-old was not ready to come on when James Husband limped off with a hamstring injury and Luton took the lead while Town were down to 10 men.
But at Highbury a week later Dempsey was raring to go and made an impact when he entered the fray for Ash Hunter in the 84th minute.
Dempsey was greeted with cheers from the home faithful and nearly added to Ched Evans’ winning penalty with a second Town goal.
The midfielder was a regular starter under previous Town bosses Uwe Rosler and John Sheridan but has only made five League One starts under Barton.
The head coach admitted he had been a little hard on Dempsey at Luton, where the substitute was himself brought him off in the 66th minute.
Barton said: “I was critical of Kyle at Luton because he was not ready to come on.
“But when he came off the bench against Burton, I thought he was really professional and did everything we expect of him.
“He probably could have nicked himself a goal, and I’m delighted for him because I was a little bit hard on him at Luton due to the fact we lost the game.
“I thought the lads were thoroughly professional. I thought everyone that came on to the pitch was raring to go and we got maximum points.”
Ash Hunter limped off with cramp, while attacker Wes Burns, left-back Husband, skipper Craig Morgan and midfielder James Wallace are all doubts for Saturday’s trip to Bristol Rovers.
But Barton is hopeful of having a few bodies back in the south-west.
He said: “Nobody is (out) long- term we just have a couple of niggles.
“We want to get everybody as ready as we can for the festive period because the games come thick and fast.”