Joey Barton wanted to be honest with Fleetwood Town fans over Ched Evans' absence

Joey Barton is prepared for a tough ride until he can bring a replacement in for ostracised Fleetwood striker Ched Evans.

Saturday, 26th December 2020, 8:00 am

The Town boss revealed after last weekend’s home draw with Wigan Athletic that the Welshman was no longer being considered for selection.

Head coach Barton cited disciplinary issues and a series of “infractions” that ultimately forced his decision.

Evans has been a key player at Fleetwood since his arrival, initially on loan, in the summer of 2018, scoring 18 goals in his first season.

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Fleetwood Town head coach Joey Barton Picture: Stephen Buckley/PRiME Media Images Limited

The 31-year-old scored 12 times the following season and has seven so far this term.

Barton is prepared to live and die by the sword, though, and knows that the striker is a favourite among the fans.

Nevertheless, he is prioritising the squad’s culture over individuals.

Ahead of today’s trip to Crewe Alexandra, he said: “It will be a tough period until the window opens and I don’t even know if we’ll be able to bring anybody in of that quality in the window.

“They are tough to find, but on the flipside, I believe in culture and paying your dues every single day.

“I know the ramifications of getting big decisions wrong and I’ve not shied away from them over my tenure here.

“Multiple times there have been fan favourites (who have left), be it Ash Hunter, Cian Bolger, Bobby Grant... I’ve been critiqued for it and that is the nature of the job.

“It always comes with the territory, so I expect the Ched one will be the same.”

Barton’s bombshell about Evans came as a surprise to most people.

The Town boss had stated ahead of the Wigan game that Evans would not play because he had not trained, leading many to conclude he had picked up an injury.

However, after the 1-1 draw with Wigan, Barton felt it was right to speak frankly about the situation.

He said he wanted to be open to supporters and end the questions which were being asked about the absence of Evans.

Barton said: “It has been rumbling on with people asking me where he is – and I’m not a manager who likes to hide the reality.

“I think it’s important for our fanbase and the people who care about Fleetwood to know where they stand.

“A fully fit and at it Ched Evans in that game (against Wigan) would have been an asset to us, as he would be for anybody.

“At this moment in time my belief is that we’re better off without him.”

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