Barton admits Burnley starlet McNeil almost joined Fleetwood Town on loan

Dwight McNeil runs at Liverpool's Trent Alexander-Arnold
Dwight McNeil runs at Liverpool's Trent Alexander-Arnold

He ended the season having trained with the England senior squad, being linked with Juventus, and earning a place in ​L'Equipe's list of the world's top 50 players under 20.

But former Claret Joey Barton has revealed that Burnley winger Dwight McNeil almost joined him on loan at Fleetwood Town last season.

The 19-year-old ended the Premier League season as one of the most productive teenagers in the top flight, in terms of goal contributions - five assists and three goals - after a remarkable second half of the campaign.

The Rochdale-born youngster left Manchester United at 14, and, after making his Burnley debut as a substitute in the final game of the 2017/18 season at home to Bournemouth, ended up playing a role in the Clarets' Europa League exploits this time last year.

With Burnley's squad stretched due to injuries and a difficult summer transfer window, McNeil came on as a substitute against Aberdeen, and started the second leg against Olympiakos, which earned him a first start in the Premier League against United.

That involvement 12 months ago saw a proposed loan switch to Highbury knocked on the head, as McNeil enjoyed something of a sliding doors moment, going on to start the last 19 Premier League games, and earn England Under 20 recognition - and an invite to train with the seniors from Gareth Southgate.

Barton said: "Burnley have some younger players coming through with Dwight McNeil, who we almost weirdly got on loan last season, but the gaffer (Sean Dyche) decided to keep him in at the last minute because of the Europa League.

"If we'd have got him, we'd have had a player on our hands...

"But having almost got him on loan, I've been watching his development and going 'God, if we'd got him, that would have been alright!'"

McNeil was 16 when Barton first joined Burnley as a free agent, but the former Manchester City and Newcastle United midfielder admitted: "I remember him, but he was like a stick insect!

"You always see the younger lads, but when they join in, you sit up and take notice, and Dwight was probably a little bit smaller.

"To be fair to him, he's kicked on and looks a real prospect."