Peterborough United lead the race to sign Fleetwood Town midfielder Kyle Dempsey
Peterborough United are leading the race to sign out-of-favour Fleetwood Town midfielder Kyle Dempsey as boss Joey Barton looks to offload this January.
The Gazette understands that Peterborough are one of many League One clubs looking to secure the services of the midfielder, who was not included in Barton's squad for the 3-2 FA Cup defeat to AFC Wimbledon on Saturday.
If Dempsey does leave this month it is expected to be on a loan move rather than a permanent exit.
Town have had a flurry of interest in the midfielder but boss Barton confirmed no bids are as yet on the table.
Dempsey, 23, has been a regular fixture at Highbury for the last two seasons. The midfielder won the young player of the year award for his performances on loan from Huddersfield in 2016-17.
He made that deal permanent in the summer of 2017, penning a three-year deal.
He was a regular fixture under both Uwe Rosler and John Sheridan but has found starts limited under Barton this season.
That omission from the squad on Saturday was a big sign that the midfielder is not in Barton's plans.
Others who could depart this month are out-of-favour duo Gethin Jones and Chris Long as well as defender Cian Bolger, who was also a regular before Barton's arrival but has since found starts limited.
Dempsey is tied down until 2020 but Bolger, 26, is out of contract in the summer.
Barton now says he knows what he needs to get out of this division. He said: "We have a squad here and I do think we need to lose a few, which I've spoken about.
"We need to recruit really well if we can in Jauaary, if it is a possibility, and then in the summer beyond that.
"I'm a lot clearer now than I was when I first came in as to what is required to build a really good team here.
"We have got some basic principles and some of the raw materials we are going to need. It is up to us to mould that, shuffle when we can and try and add those missing components that will give us the opportunity to get out of this division."
When asked to elaborate, Barton joked those missing components are Chelsea stars Eden Hazard and N'Golo Kanté.
More seriously, he added: "Without giving too much of it away, I think we want to play a certain way, with a certain energy, and some of the personnel that we have at this moment in time stop us from doing that.
"The key is trying to get them to do it. We have many of those components. We have many of the players that can play in the system I want to play.
"At the minute the way we are playing is a compromise between how I want to play and a way of playing that suits the personnel we have got.
"I'm still dealing with other managers' players. There are a lot of players here who have been recruited under previous regimes.
"Some of them are great and we can take them forward. They are really good for where we want to go with the team.
"But others just do not fit with where we want to go. Without going into the specifics, it is about getting a bit more size in the team and we need more legs in the team in certain areas.
"It is as simple as that. It is a very simple game. You have got to outwork the opposition at times and that gives you the foothold to allow your footballing quality to take over.
"I just think we are a little bit on the small side. Partly that is my fault in that I recruited smaller, footballing players in the summer because I felt that was what we needed.
"Obviously League One has taught me it is not the Championship or Premier League and you need a different kind of player.
"Fortunately for me, a lot of those players are either on short-term contracts or loans, so we do have the opportunity to shuffle the pack.
"I think we have a lot of players out of contract in the summer.
"The great thing about League One is you don't have players sitting on four or five- year deals worth £20m.
"You can change the nucleus of your group if you wish to do so. I had a chat with Andy (Pilley, club owner) on Saturday.
"We are disappointed because that money from the cup run could have been used to invest in the future of the club.
"The club has earned a few quid reaching the third round but we're disappointed we do not get to the fourth round because the extra dough would have gone down well."