Joey Barton: Fleetwood could be serious contenders

Joey Barton knows Fleetwood's away form must improve if they are to be 'serious' about promotion
Joey Barton knows Fleetwood's away form must improve if they are to be 'serious' about promotion
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Joey Barton believes his Fleetwood team have made great progress over the course of 2019, but the Town boss says it will only become clear in the coming weeks whether they are serious promotion contenders.

READ MORE: Joey Barton admits frustration against Gillingham
Town remain ninth in League One after their 1-1 home draw with Gillingham, though they are only a point outside the play-off zone and have two games in hand on sixth-placed Rotherham United, who they visit on Saturday.

Head coach Barton said: “I look back to the start of the calendar year, to where we were as a team and how we were, and if you’d said to me that this is where we would be, this is the home run we would be on and this is the form at home, then I’d be foolish not to be happy with that.

“Yes, it would have been nice to get a clean sheet and another two points on Saturday, but the lads have been outstanding at home and I think the fans come here now expecting us to win games.

“We are disappointed we have not beaten Gillingham and that would not have been the case when I came here as manager.

“We now need to be disappointed not to win games on the road, but the home form is enough to put us in contention.”

Barton believes around half the clubs in the league are also in contention and the coming weeks will be critical.

He added: “There are probably 10-12 teams jockeying to be in with a shout of mounting a promotion charge and I would class us as one of them.

“We’ve got two games in hand on some teams and one on some others but they are tough games.

“We are right where we need to be. I think we’ve got work to do to establish ourselves as a side that sits as a genuine promotion contender.

“I think we are promotion hopefuls at the minute and (the games) in January, February, March tend to separate the sides that are mid-table from the sides that are actually serious about going up.

“But there is work to do in terms of the away form because clearly we have to be better on the road.”