Joey Barton wary of overplaying Glenn Whelan as Fleetwood games come thick and fast
Joey Barton has explained why he dropped Cod Army favourite Paul Coutts for Saturday’s draw at Bristol Rovers and selected new recruit Glenn Whelan.
The Town boss had fixture congestion in mind and said: “Whelo is a more natural (number) four. I spoke all the while about having to replace the bodies we lost: (Ashley) Hunter, (Jordan) Rossiter, (Jimmy) Dunne and (Peter) Clarke.
“We felt we covered Jimmy Dunne with Callum Connolly and I think he showed that in his performance.
“We were struggling to replace Jordan and in recent weeks Couttsy has been tasked with that job, but that’s not his natural game. He likes to get on the ball and get you playing forward.
“We felt we lacked that real defensive-minded midfielder. Jack Sowerby has done it on occasion and we want to use Kyle (Dempsey) further up the pitch to utilise his skill set.
“We now come into a spell of games where it feels like they come every minute.
“With Couttsy and Glenn being the age they are, for them to go 90, 90, 90 three times a week is a tough ask.
“We want players who are fresh and full of energy, so we have to be smart.
“I’d like to see Glenn and Couttsy play together because they haven’t been able to do that as yet.
“Saturday wasn’t the day and there will be occasion for that.
“Also, you want to be able to share the workload, let the younger lads do all the running and let the two older lads use their brains and control that space for us.”
Whelan turned 36 this month, but with more than 300 Premier League appearances and 91 international caps to his name, Barton believes he is the ideal foil for his other midfielders.
“It helps the other lads,” he added. “Jack and Kyle know they can take up positions either side of him where he will find them.
“We spoke before the window about adding quality and not quantity, and I think Callum Connolly and Glenn Whelan thus far have been real quality additions.”
As for the remaining three days of the window, Barton said: “We’re always looking to add quality. We’ve still got a bit to do in the window.
“We’re working on a few things in the background but there are so many moving parts because they will most likely be loan signings.
“Whelo will be our last permanent signing of the window. They will be loan signings from here on in and we’ll have to hold our nerve – we may be tested for some of our players, so it’s a mad period for a manager.”