Joey Barton is delighted by the “blossoming bromance” between Ryan Taylor and Fleetwood Town’s ‘assists king’ Ash Hunter, who has been nominated for the 2018 North West Football Awards.
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Hunter, 23, has 10 assists from 12 League One games going into Saturday's clash away to League One leaders Portsmouth.
The forward-turned -winger has been rewarded for his form as one of six nominees for the Rising Star award.
Town’s longest-serving player is vying for the prize with Preston’s ex-Town loanee Ben Davies, Bolton’s Connor Hall, Liverpool’s England star Trent Alexander-Arnold, Manchester United’s Tahith Chong and Rochdale’s Ryan Delaney.
The winner will be revealed during the ceremony at Lancashire County Cricket Club’s Emirates Old Trafford home on Monday November 12.
Barton praised Hunter for his progress and says there is more to come.
The Town boss said: “He has been first- class. I could not ask any more of him.
“He’s even adjusted the number of silly bookings he had been picking up.
“He’s a very exciting player, someone you would happily pay to watch. Every time he gets the ball he does try to make things happen.
“Our job is to make sure we take the rougher edges off – like when he passes backwards blind in our half at key times.
“But he is getting better each day, every training session, every time he plays.
“His habits are getting better. He is now surrounding himself with good people on the training ground and outside the training ground. He and Ryan Taylor have become strangely close.
“Steve Black (sports psychologist) told him to surround himself with good professionals and learn from them. He has taken that on board and so you see Tayls carrying him round like a little koala bear. He just needs a little pouch!
“Ash and Tayls have struck up a great friendship. Tayls says he gets constant Snapchats from Ash. It is a blossoming bromance and it is great to see the lads bonding.
“All the lads get on and there is a really good feel in the building. There are no gangs –everyone just gets on with it and I think that is reflected in performances.
“When the lads take to the pitch you can see they are working hard for each other and are together. That is good to see. It shows they are a team and you are only going to get good performances.”