Joey Barton says 52 points is first key target for Fleetwood Town

Joey Barton believes Fleetwood are entering a pivotal period of the season
Joey Barton believes Fleetwood are entering a pivotal period of the season

As the vital festive period approaches, Fleetwood Town boss Joey Barton says the key in League One is to hit the 52-point safety mark as quickly as possible and then look up.

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Town escaped relegation last season with 57 points, though no team reaching 51 has been relegated in the past 10 years.

Head coach Barton’s side have amassed 27 points from their first 20 games and stand 12th in the table after seven wins, seven defeats and six draws.

Town’s five league games this month see them face three of the current top six, starting with tomorrow’s visit to third-placed Luton Town.

And as his team bids to build on back-to-back wins over Coventry and Guiseley, Barton has described this as a time for Town to show whether they are contenders or pretenders.

He said: “We look at Luton away, quickly followed by Burton, Doncaster and Portsmouth at home and Bristol Rovers a tricky away fixture.

“Everyone is jockeying for position and it is usually in December, January and February that you know whether you are going for automatic promotion, play-offs or trying to stay away from the relegation fight.

“The key for a club like us is to get to 52 points, then see where you are. I speak for 20 teams in the division when I say that.

“Get to the safety mark, and if you have 10 games to spare you will know if you can or can’t kick on.

“We must not forget this team was in a relegation scrap long into last season.

“ If we do not have to deal with that, I’m sure everyone will have a lot less grey hairs and a lot less anxious nights.

“If we can have that cherry of the play-offs or automatic to aim at going into the back end of the season, then fantastic.

“We know we have an FA Cup game on January 5 (at home to AFC Wimbledon) and the opportunity to get into the fourth round for the first time in the club’s history.

“And we know that everyone in this league has beaten everyone else, so a good spurt at the right time can have a real impact on where you are at the end of the season.”