Joey Barton is pleased his ex-Rangers team-mate Jason Holt is showing exactly why Fleetwood Town were so keen to bring him to Highbury.
READ MORE: Alex Cairns hungry for more after historic cup win
Midfielder Holt, on a season-long loan from the Glasgow club, made his debut in Town’s first win of the season at Oxford on Saturday and gave a game-changing display in Tuesday’s League Cup win at Crewe.
Town were a goal down to the League Two club when the 25-year-old replaced Nathan Sheron at half-time.
Holt stole the show, scoring the equaliser and having another ‘goal’ ruled offside before Town won a penalty shoot-out 4-3 to reach the second round for the first time.
Barton was full of praise for the diminutive midfield maestro. He said: “He is a tremendous player. That was the reason we wanted to bring him to the football club.
“We made a load of changes (eight), such is my confidence in the squad. We have got some good players and we wanted to get them in.
“Nathan was playing well but he picked up a yellow card, and the crowd were a little bit precious and were baying for blood.
“Obviously you do not want a kid to be making a senior start and then going for an early bath because that does not help his confidence. We took him out of the game to protect him.
“Then the wee man comes on and just showcases what a phenomenal little player he is.
“He probably should have had a second goal. We looked back at the incident and he was level, which we felt (he was) in real time. The officials, who on balance did really well, have got to get decisions like that.
“Justice prevails because the better team won and it shows the strength in depth we have at this football club.”
Shoot-out hero Alex Cairns and full-backs Lewie Coyle and Gethin Jones are the only players to have started the last two games, and Barton is pleased to have a selection headache for Saturday’s home clash with Rochdale.
He said: “Places are up for grabs. I’ve told the lads every day is a job interview. We have real competition for places and loads of options.
“Games come thick and fast, and we needed to find out whether we could trust lads to go in and share the workload because it is a hard campaign.
“I said in the dressing room that everyone who came in threw the gauntlet down. The lads set the bar on Saturday and now they have raised the bar again, certainly in the second half.”