Joey Barton has heaped praise on resurgent Kyle Dempsey, saying the Fleetwood Town midfielder was man of the match “by a mile” in Saturday’s win over MK Dons.
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It’s not the first time this season the Town boss has hailed the 24-year-old, who was out of favour and out on loan last season but is now among the first names on Barton’s teamsheet.
Discussing Dempsey’s change of fortunes, the head coach said: “Players never know how you are as a coach when you come in. With some managers, if you fall on the wrong side of them you tend to leave.
“I have very strong principles about what we want, and if you adhere to them and buy into them and the ethos of the team you will end up being successful here.
“Demps was one who kind of struggled and couldn’t get into the side.
“The system didn’t really suit him last year, so he went out to get games, which I respected because he wanted to play football.
“He has come back refreshed and with a totally different mindset.
“I know he has been speaking to a sports psychologist and done other things which have brought his game on and he deserves enormous credit.
“It’s easy to sulk, blame the manager and say, ‘The manager doesn’t fancy me’ and, ‘It’s everyone else’s fault but mine’ but Kyle didn’t.
“He spoke to those who love him and care about him and he decided to make changes.
“He has reaped the rewards of that. He has been first-class since the first day of pre-season and he is showing it on the pitch now.
“I thought he was man of the match on Saturday by a mile. Against Burton and Coventry he was possibly man of the match.
“Players have to want to do it themselves. Demps does and he’s lighting this place up again.”