Joey Barton says Fleetwood Town’s clash at Walsall has come too soon for a James Wallace return but Ross Wallace and Ashley Nadesan are battling it out to start.
James Wallace’s hamstring injury and disrupted training due to paternity leave will see the midfielder miss Saturday’s trip to the Banks’ Stadium.
But midfielder Ross Wallace will return from suspension and Ashley Nadesan has a week of training under his belt.
Dean Marney (calf) is not in contention and boss Barton says Town have to be careful with James Wallace’s return as he aims to get the injury-hit midfielder up to full fitness after he limped off in the 1-0 win at Bradford City last month.
Barton is keen to give other members of his squad a chance to stake their claim rather than risk rushing James Wallace back.
He said: “We have to be careful with him. He is champing at the bit.
“His partner had a baby on Wednesday. He is on paternity leave on Thursday.
“He’s back in on Friday but Walsall probably comes too quick for him. If you asked him he would love to play.
“But we need to make sure he does not just play one game then miss a couple.
“We have got lads who are fit and want opportunities. He trained for the first part of this week but we want to get a lot more work into him before we ask him to play 90 minutes in the first team.”
Nadesan, 24, moved to the bench for the 1-1 draw with Gillingham, having opened his account in the 1-0 win at Burton Albion.
Barton said that was because the striker had missed a chunk of training. Ash Hunter took his spot in the starting line-up but now Nadesan is back to full fitness.
Barton said: “Nads has had a week of training and he is contention to start on Saturday.
“Nadesan is pretty much there. He was pretty much there last weekend but he did not have a week of training behind him.
“He would have been red zone risk to start the game when you have the likes of Ash Hunter.”