Fleetwood Town boss Joey Barton outlines the departures of Ash Hunter and Jimmy Dunne

Ash Hunter has left Fleetwood Town on loan
Ash Hunter has left Fleetwood Town on loan

Fleetwood Town head coach Joey Barton has admitted there was no way for Ash Hunter and Jimmy Dunne to remain at the club right now.

The pair were two of three players to exit the club in the opening days of the transfer window, with Peter Clarke also leaving for Tranmere Rovers.

Hunter departed on loan to Salford City while Dunne returned to his parent club, Burnley.

Barton hopes to see 24-year-old Hunter back at Fleetwood in a better frame of mind.

He told The Gazette: “I’d like nothing more than to see him doing well for us again, because he was outstanding in my first six months here. He goes now into League Two and he’s fighting for his career.

“I always believe people can change, but they have to have the desire to change. For Ash, I’m not the first manager that’s had to give him multiple disciplinary actions.

“We’ve had to have the PFA involved and he’s very fortunate he didn’t completely derail his own career.

“He will be a loss for us but you have to respect your craft, you have to respect your profession. He goes down to a League Two side to see what the grass on the other side of the fence is like.

“It’ll be a reality check and he’ll have to decide at that point if he wants to start taking on board the messages and to fulfil his potential, or keep being immature, listening to the wrong people, taking the wrong advice – and he’ll probably end up working in McDonalds or Tesco if he carries on down that pathway.”

Town fans had reacted with anger to the news that the winger was departing into the fourth tier.

Barton acknowledges their frustration but insists that he has made the right choice.

He explained: “He just ran out of chances here. That’s the reality.

“We have to set the tone for the young kids coming behind that this is not how you behave if you want to get a life as a professional athlete.

“It’s a phenomenal opportunity for anyone, and all that you ask is that you do the right thing at all times.

“If players don’t do that, whether they’re fans’ favourites is not important to me.

“I couldn’t tell you what he’s done, because that remains between us.

“If Ash wants to discuss that publicly then that’s up to him, but that remains in the confines of our football club and in my office.

“There has to be a sanctuary of truth. I’m not sure it’s for public debate; that’s for many factors, that’s not just for us.

“I’ve no problem dealing with it. I’m pretty sure if everyone had all the information at hand, they’d have no problem with the action that has been taken.

“He is a good player, there’s no doubt about that, we’re not arguing about his playing ability.”

Barton was equally tightlipped as to the reasons Town were not interested in extending Dunne’s loan beyond January.

He said: “It’s another thing that will stay in the confines of the football club, another discipline breach in our opinion.

“Something that is non-negotiable for us. A lesson that needs to be learned for a young player.

“Jim did great, had a couple of good performances and scored a couple of good goals, but some things are just non-negotiable and he crossed a line for us.

“Unfortunately for us we decided we didn’t want to renew his loan and that we are going to go in a different direction.

“We’ve just decided to change direction, there was a line crossed; for our dressing room it was impossible for it to continue.

“I always speak to my dressing room because they are the football club. The players are the ones who go out and they’re in the trenches.

“They have to be sure that everyone is facing the same direction and they’re not going to get a sideswipe.

“We have to clear that up, that has been dealt with and we move forward.

“That has left us with a deficit of players. You would have to say we’re not as strong as where we started the season, we are aware of that.”