Joey Barton wants to strengthen Fleetwood Town’s squad

Fleetwood Town's Paddy Madden
Fleetwood Town's Paddy Madden

Fleetwood Town boss Joey Barton is keen to strengthen up front despite saying Paddy Madden and Ched Evans are both capable of hitting the 20-goal mark.

Madden made it into double figures in Monday’s FA Cup second round win over Guiseley with Evans on seven.

Chris Long was brought in as competition but has only netted once in 13 games and been sent to train with the U18s.

Academy product Ged Garner has moved into first-team contention, scoring in the FA Cup win at Alfreton Town as well as taking a place on the bench for the victories against Coventry City and Guiseley.

Barton said: “Every good team needs their strikers firing.

“Ched has seven, Paddy has 10. They have got a nice little bit of competition going amongst themselves.

“If you are going to be successful you have got to have two of your strikers getting into that 15, 20-goal category.

“I will be very surprised if, both of them, when we are talking in May do not have at least 15 or 20 goals.

“They are, at this level, very good players and have shown in the games that they have been as a partnership how effective they can be.”

Of Barton’s attacking alternatives, Wes Burns, Ash Hunter and Conor McAleny have mainly been utilised in midfield or wide in a front three.

Ashley Nadesan has scored eight times on loan at Carlisle United and is due back in January.

Midfielder Jack Sowerby’s spell at Brunton Park is also set to end then with Bobby Grant (Wrexham), Joe Maguire (Crawley) and Michael Donohue (FC United) all returning in the New Year.

However, before he can look at strengthening in several places, Barton says that Town will have to offload players.

He said: “If the opportunity arises where we can bring another striker in I think, along with another couple of other positions, we have to look at that.

“We have to lose a couple to do that; as it stands, at this moment in time, we have not got much wiggle room.”

While Barton is pleased to have both of his key strikers firing, he hopes that McAleny can open his league account this season at Luton Town today.

He said: “It would be nice for Conor to get on the scoresheet.

“We are getting that real team responsibility for defending and attacking which is pleasing to see.

“We are starting to see those real nice encouraging signs of a team growing.”