Joey Barton embraces competition for places after Fleetwood Town’s draw with Southend United

Ryan Rydel was brought off at half-time during Fleetwood Town's draw
Ryan Rydel was brought off at half-time during Fleetwood Town's draw

Joey Barton says all three Ashleys – Hunter, Nadesan and Eastham – are pushing to start at Barnsley on Saturday after impressing as subs in Fleetwood Town’s 2-2 draw with Southend United.

Town had trailed 1-0 to Harry Bunn’s opener at Highbury but got back into the game after the half-time introductions of Nadesan and Hunter for Harrison Biggins and Ryan Rydel.

Ched Evans levelled for Town with the hour approaching before Eastham appeared in the 70th minute as Barton switched from a back three to a four.

Luke Hyam gave the visitors an 81st minute lead, only for Evans to level from the spot with five minutes left.

When asked if all three subs were in contention for Saturday’s trip to Oakwell, Barton said: “For sure, without a shadow of a doubt.

“We have picked up a few niggles and knocks; hopefully they are OK but I thought Nadders (Nadesan) was superb.

“Ash Hunter, even though I’m a little bit annoyed at him for giving away a silly free-kick, when he gets the ball good things happen.

“We have some good players, some nice selection issues and this week will be interesting because we have competition for places.

“We have not probably had that all season.”

Barton was going to send on Hunter in the 30th minute but opted for a half-time substitution instead.

When asked about that, he admitted it was done to protect the confidence of Rydel, who started only his third game at left-back.

Earlier in the season, Barton had taken off substitute Chris Long and acknowledged that situation was a learning curve.

He said: “I was going to put him (Hunter) on earlier because I felt it was the right move.

“Then, after consideration, I thought ‘we’ve got a young lad learning his trade.’

“I asked myself how would I have handled that as an 18-year-old.

“I learned from the Chris Long one that sometimes you need to bite down on your gumshield and get to half-time.

“My instinct was right both ways.

“It was the right sub because Ash Hunter changed the game when he came on but it was also the right call to do it at half-time.

“I’m learning, I learn those lessons from those experiences.

“I’m not perfect, I will get things wrong but I am always trying to learn as best I can.

“I spoke to Ryan about it after the game.

“That is all part of his progression. In a development game you can let it flow because the result is not life or death.

“The result does not mean you are in the play-offs or not.

“For us it was like we need to win that game. Every sub I made was to win.

“Maybe that is part of my learning that we should try and draw more games because I want to win.

“The position we are in, we have to win. Let’s go for it.”