Fleetwood Town boss Joey Barton hails James Husband’s improvement since joining from Norwich City

Fleetwood Town's James Husband (left) is swamped by team-mates as he celebrates scoring against Gillingham in March
Fleetwood Town's James Husband (left) is swamped by team-mates as he celebrates scoring against Gillingham in March

Joey Barton says Norwich City defender James Husband’s transformation during his loan spell at Fleetwood Town is one of the most pleasing aspects of his role this year.

Left-back Husband had arrived at Town in August after losing his spot in the Canaries’ side.

Although Norwich went on to win the Championship without him, Barton has hailed Husband’s development during the season.

He also admitted that, given the chance, he’d like to sign Husband and his other loanees – Rangers’ Jason Holt, Sheffield United’s Ched Evans, Leeds United’s Lewie Coyle and Stoke City’s Harry Souttar – on a permanent basis.

When asked if he expected any of those five players to be back with Town next season, Barton said: “Again, they are not our players.

“If you offered me the opportunity to take them on a permanent, would I do it? Of course I would.

“You have had Ched come in, score 17 goals, Jason Holt play the majority of the games for us and be a real drive and energy; we have missed him in recent weeks.

“Lewie Coyle got here before I was here.

“Everyone told me what a good lad and player he was.

“The highest compliment you could be paid is that Clint Hill – the highest compliment you could get from him – would like to be a team-mate of his.

“You look at Soutts (Souttar) coming in from January and being outstanding.

“The most pleasing thing of all is James Husband, his transformation as a human being.

“He is still not perfect, you still have to be on him.

“But to see his growth as a player who came here from Norwich, out in the wilderness, low on confidence, low on self-belief and to see where he is at now and how he gets on with the lads is what this job is about.

“Yes it is great to win games and have moments like we had in the stadium against Sunderland (victory in the penultimate game).

“The real rewarding aspect of this job that I did not see before this job is the real difference you can make in people’s lives by helping them find their way and play good football. It is great to see.”

One player Barton could swoop for in the summer is former Town defender Conor McLaughlin.

McLaughlin left Town to join Championship side Millwall in the summer of 2017 but he has just been released by the Lions.