Ash Hunter a hero in defence as well as attack for Fleetwood says Joey Barton

Ash Hunter
Ash Hunter

He’s got 10 assists from 12 league games but Fleetwood wing wizard Ash Hunter has shown his defensive prowess too, says Town boss Joey Barton.

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The 23-year-old, who has missed only the League One game against Barnsley due to suspension, has also scored

three times, though Barton was keen to stress his defensive improvements as Town head to table-topping Portsmouth on Saturday looking to build on back-to-back wins over Doncaster and Shrewsbury.

The head coach said of Hunter: “He’s been first-class but it is not only the assists – it is the shift he does for the side defensively. He is a massive part of what we are doing here.

“You need lads to make the runs and get on the end of them but his quality is undoubted.

“You factor in Ross Wallace and Ryan Taylor’s delivery and we are very fortunate to have some top-quality players capable of delivering real quality.

“You have lads trying to get free from markers because there is a good chance the ball will be on the money and give them a chance to get a goal. It does set off a chain of events.”

Saturday’s 2-1 win over Shrewsbury in the wind and rain was only Town’s second this season at Highbury.

But Barton says lessons were learned from their previous home league clash, the 1-1 draw with Wycombe, in which strong winds were also a factor.

“We are growing,” he said. “Players are starting to learn to trust each.

“We said we want to play football but when conditions are a bit weird you need to adjust, and manage what Mother Nature and the game throw at you.

“We learned a lot from Wycombe in terms of playing against the wind. If you don’t play football it just blows back at you!

“I thought we managed the wind against us exceptionally well compared to the Wycombe game.

“We just did not play particularly well for a period when we had the wind!

“So it’s two steps forward and sometimes half a step back but the key is picking the bones out of it and learning.

“It is never going to be perfect but that does not mean we should not aspire to be the best possible version of ourselves we can be when we take to the field.”

Fleetwood Town’s development squad face Morecambe at Poolfoot Farm today (1pm kick-off) in their first Group North match in the Central League Cup.