Christmas is no big deal if you have been in professional football as long as Joey Barton, who says the busy festive programme could afford opportunities to Fleetwood Town players who have been “unlucky” so far.
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The Boxing Day trip to Rochdale is the first of three League One games in seven days but that doesn’t faze the Town head coach or his players.
Barton said: “Christmas is what it is. As a player I prepared for that period for a long time.
“The players now are well versed and well used to it. I don’t think what you do changes too much but the games come thick and fast.
“Once you get into Christmas I don’t really know what day it is. The whole house has been counting down the days, especially with the young kids I’ve got, and sometimes you are delighted to have a load of games when the kids are off school because it gets you out of the house!”
And Barton is open to the idea of rotating his squad for the demanding week ahead.
He added: “There are a few lads who have worked tirelessly and done some good physical shifts. We’ll assess them and see what shape they are in.
“Josh (Morris) was unlucky to miss out at Rotherham (coming on as a late substitute) and we have Harrison Biggins, who has also been unlucky.”
Biggins was an unused substitute on Saturday but has not played in the first team since mid-September.
Barton added: “Biggo’s suspension from the Leasing.com Trophy (he received a red card at Accrington Stanley) has disrupted his season after a really strong pre-season.
“I expect him to come back to the group, and use his energy and fitness to drive us forward.
“But we’ve had lots of pleasing performances in midfield, with (Jack) Sowerby, (Paul) Coutts and Kyle Dempsey, who was superb in the first half at Rotherham and really gave us that platform.
“We have lots to be positive about but loads to work to do and things to improve on.”
Town are ninth in League One at Christmas but just two points outside the play-off zone, with one or two games in hand on all the teams above them.
“We just have to take it game by game because we are still competing on all fronts,” added Barton.
“We didn’t reach our level of performance for the entirety of the game at Blackpool but I feel we did at Rotherham.
“If we turn up and play like that at Rochdale we’ll be going into the second half of the season in a good position.”