Nathan Sheron’s season has ended early but Fleetwood Town boss Joey Barton says the 21-year-old has proved he can cut it in League One.
Sheron became the first player from Town’s category three academy to feature for the first team when he came off the bench in the 2-0 win at Oxford last August.
Ged Garner, Ryan Rydel and Barry Baggley have all made their league bows under Barton this season with James Hill the latest to make the leap from the academy to a first-team start at Blackpool on Easter Monday.
Sheron received a four-game ban after being sent off in that game for a late challenge on Matty Virtue.
Barton said: “You can see it being a yellow card some days but the ref has a lot closer view than me.
“We respect his call on that. The days of tackling in that fashion are behind us now.
“You go back four or five seasons and it probably would be a booking.
“Winning the ball is not enough now. You have to be in control and not endangering an opponent.
“He (Sheron) has had a solid season nonetheless and showed he can impact games at first-team level.”
Barton, who played his last game for Burnley in 2017, spoke of the changes in tackling laws, adding: “It was moving that way towards the back end of my playing career. You have to be in control at all times.
“You look at the speeds the modern day player moves. Impact at that kind of speed can endanger an opponent.
“The last thing any of us wants to see is players sitting on the sidelines with broken bones, severe injuries and missing game-time.
“It is a tough enough profession without adding collateral damage of the body and the aftermath of that when you stop playing.
“You do not want to see players missing through suspension or injury. If that means people have to tackle with less force, then so be it.”