Fleetwood boss Joey Barton ready to pit his wits against Wycombe's 'nice guys'

Joey Barton believes his Wycombe counterpart Gareth Ainsworth has built a great culture at Adams Park
Joey Barton believes his Wycombe counterpart Gareth Ainsworth has built a great culture at Adams Park

Joey Barton can’t wait to pit his wits against two of League One’s top teams in the coming days.

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Games are coming thick and fast for Fleetwood Town, with tonight’s visit to second-placed Wycombe Wanderers (7.45) followed by a home clash on Saturday with Peterborough United, who are currently third.

And Barton believes his side will be full of confidence after back-to-back wins propelled Town to ninth, just three points outside the play-off zone.

The head coach said of Wycombe: “We’ve always had great games with Gareth Ainsworth’s side and hugely competitive ones.

“We know they will give us a really thorough examination.

“But our lads should be buoyed with confidence because of how well we defended set-plays at Wimbledon (where Town won 2-1 on Saturday). Hopefully that was really good practice for what Wycombe and Gareth will bring.

“They have a good pitch and stadium, and the games are always played in the right spirit, so we go into it with a bit of confidence but knowing we have to be a lot better than we were at the weekend to take maximum points.”

Barton knows his side also face a massive physical challenge tonight to contain Wycombe’s Adebayo Akinfenwa.

Often labelled the strongest footballer in the world because of his gym work and huge physique, Barton knows that keeping the 37-year-old quiet will go a long way towards ensuring another positive result for the Cod Army.

He added: “Akinfenwa started on Saturday (in the win over Bristol Rovers), so we’ll see if he starts against us. He doesn’t tend to start two games back to back but he may well.

“He’s someone we’ve faced before. He’s an absolute handful and you’d like to have him in your side to launch off the bench for 20 minutes because he causes absolute chaos.

“He’s such a nice guy – a big, gentle giant – but hugely effective as a player. If we are going to be successful on Tuesday down there, we have to take care of the big man.

“I’m not surprised they have done so well because Gareth has got a great culture. You just feel they are a good set of people and they run their football club in the right way.

“The test for all of us is to keep pushing and see where we can finish, and it would be a great story if Gareth could deliver Wycombe into the Championship.

“He’d probably deserve to be manager of the year if he pulled that off and it couldn’t happen to a nicer fella’.

“We want to beat them on Tuesday but you always want to see the good people in the game do well.

“The reality is we have to focus on one game at a time and we are into a spell of games playing everyone who is going to have a say in the promotion chase.

“So it’s in our hands, but we’ll have to be as good as we can possibly be and hopefully we can cause a bit of an upset by gatecrashing the end-of-season promotion hunt.”