Joey Barton believes coming up against Liverpool’s youngsters showed some of Fleetwood Town’s rookies just how far they have to go.
Town won their Leasing.com Trophy tie on Wednesday, claiming victory in a penalty shootout against a very young Liverpool side.
The Reds fielded a number of their top youngsters in their Carabao Cup win at MK Dons the same night, meaning Town faced players from the next age group down instead.
Barton also took the chance to give minutes to some of Town’s younger players, even if he felt some did not take the chance provided to them.
Barry Baggley’s display had its ups and downs, and although Barton was generally unhappy with his performance, he believed the 17-year-old can use it as motivation.
“He couldn’t figure his way out of a bad performance,” Barton said.
“You have to simplify your game then but that’s part of his learning.
“Baz has had a lot of plaudits. He’s been accelerated into the first team group and dipped back out but tonight was a reality check in terms of how hard he’s got to work to get into our first team.
“Not only that, you’re looking at the players he’s playing against from Liverpool who are likely not to get into Liverpool’s first team based on how difficult it will be to get into a side that’s been European Cup finalists for the last two seasons and won it last year.
“The reality for us is we have to understand what you’re competing against; our 17-year-olds compared to Liverpool’s 17 or 18-year-olds.
“There’s a huge physical difference between them; they are bigger physically, stronger, quicker, and I think it’s a great learning curve for our players.
“A few of ours have been in and around the first team, had a sniff of it and they kind of think ‘OK I’ve made it’ but tonight shows them they haven’t.
“They see the first team on a daily basis; these Liverpool lads have probably never seen the first team.
“I think Liverpool are due to move their Academy and that will probably be the nearest some of these get to the first team.”