Joey Barton’s praise for Fleetwod Town loan defender Harry Souttar

Harry Souttar featured for Fleetwood Town against Burnley last week
Harry Souttar featured for Fleetwood Town against Burnley last week
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Joey Barton was pleased to get Harry Souttar through 90 minutes of Fleetwood’s friendly win over Preston as he looks to build up the defender’s match sharpness.

Souttar has rejoined Town on loan for the season from Stoke City, having spent the second half of last season at Highbury.

He was the only player to stay on the pitch for the whole of the Preston game, Barton having made a raft of changes in the second half.

The 20-year-old Scot set up Ash Hunter’s winner on Friday night, intercepting a loose ball in midfield before striding forward and playing in Hunter.

Fleetwood boss Barton told the Gazette: “Harry has got that quality and he showed great ability to step in and play in Ash.

“He is probably a little bit behind the other lads having been at Stoke until recently.

“We were delighted to get him in but you are never quite sure what has been done with him, what work he’s had and how many minutes he’s got.

“In the Burnley game last week I just felt that he was someone we needed to get up to speed.

“The other lads have had a couple more weeks than him.

“In the second half against Preston he came on a bundle, I was really pleased with him.”

Souttar partnered Peter Clarke at the heart of the back four against Preston with Ash Eastham replacing Clarke after an hour.

The victory over Preston rounded-off pre-season for Barton’s men and now all the focus is on the season’s opener at Peterborough.

The clash at London Road will be a testing one, Barton quick to acknowledge that.

“They will be there or there abouts knowing how Darren Ferguson works,” said Barton.

“Peterborough were a good side when they came here at the back end of last season – we managed to nick a draw on that occasion.

“We have strengthened since then and they have brought in reinforcements to an already strong side.

“It is an opportunity for us to go to one of the toughest places in League One and show everyone what we are all about.

“We will go there with a lot of confidence after the good performances against Burnley and Preston.”

Barton is still eyeing more recruitment although there is still a month for clubs in League One to finish their business.

“We’d like to add one or two more if we can do that,” said Barton.

“If we can do it, we will, if we don’t we got some good players here, some exciting talent.”