Fleetwood Town head coach Joey Barton has mixed feelings over Harry Souttar’s Australian exploits

Harry Souttar scored twice for Australia against Chinese Taipei in midweek'''''           Picture: Getty Images
Harry Souttar scored twice for Australia against Chinese Taipei in midweek''''' Picture: Getty Images

Joey Barton was happy to see that Harry Souttar had scored in his first two international games – but admitted he had other things to focus upon.

The Stoke City loanee scored on his debut against Nepal before following that up with two goals against Chinese Taipei.

Barton has more important tasks on hand at Highbury but knows the importance Souttar’s international bow has for his family.

He said: “I’m glad for him, it’s a good thing, but like any club manager, I’d be happy if every single player retired from international football because it only runs the risk of them getting fatigue or picking up an injury.

“It’s a great thing for them; delighted for Soutts and his family, a really poignant moment in his career – a lovely milestone for him.

“It’s a strange one for me because I’m not sure too much of what we get from watching Nepal or Chinese Tapei against Australia.

“Tip of the hat to ‘H’ for getting his goals for the Socceroos, but unfortunately, I’ve got more pressing matters than the state of footballing affairs in the Nepal national team.

“Selfishly, as his club manager, we want him to be fully fit for us.

“When we see he’s got those goals you know he’s going to be coming back full of confidence but the travel to Australia is something we have to work around.

“It’s all new to us but we have recovery protocols in place; to fly that distance and then come back and play three games in a week is going to be a test for our protocols.

“We’ve got to make sure we get him in the right spot to go and deliver his level of performance.”

Souttar automatically becomes a doubt for tomorrow’s game against Burton Albion, solely due to the amount of travel the new international must undertake.

But Barton says the defender will be managed and closely monitored all the way up to team selection.

“I’ve seen him this morning and asked how he is and he’s full of the joys of spring,” he said.

“From the last international game, when he came back, he lost his place in the side. That is unfortunately the nature sometimes.

“If you do go away and there are people here pushing for places, that can be the difference sometimes between starting and being on the bench.

“Is he fresh enough to come in and start or is he going to need a longer period?

“And then maybe we have an eye on the Coventry and MK Dons games beyond that,

“We’ll make a call when we get near to the fixture and we see where his energy levels are.”