Joey Barton said he was unaware of speculation linking Fleetwood centre-half Cian Bolger to Championship club Hull City but he believes the defender’s sole focus should be on trying to break into Town’s League One line-up.
After Saturday’s 0-0 draw at Charlton, Barton changed his entire starting 11 for Tuesday’s 4-0 League Cup defeat at Leicester City.
After back-to-back clean sheets, Town’s second 11 were dumped out in the second round by the Premier League club.
Bolger started that game, and with the loan window due to close tomorrow speculation is rife as to the Irishman’s future.
For Barton, the 26-year-old’s performance at the King Power has not brought him any closer to replacing either Craig Morgan or Ashley Eastham, who have kept three clean sheets in their last four league games as a central defensive unit.
Barton wants Bolger to remain at the club and fight for the shirt.
But the defender will be out of contract next summer and Barton says the club is keen to avoid losing another senior player on a free transfer, as happened last year with Conor McLaughlin, David Ball and Jimmy Ryan
Barton said: “I didn’t even know there was speculation. This is news to me. They need to let us know!
“I need to go and check my phone but as yet I have not heard anything.
“Bolger has to try to get in our team. That is the reality of it – he is not in the first team.
“His performance on Tuesday probably does not bring him any closer.
“If Hull want to have a conversation with us, then that is out of my hands.
“He has got a contract running down. The club has not agreed a new contract with him.
“After the club had their fingers burned with McLaughlin and a couple of other players, it is a decision for the chief executive and the chairman to make.
“We have to run the club as a business. If they decide that there is a deal on the table, then there is a deal on the table.
“The trickiness of the situation is the fact that in the summer he can go for free.
“We are Fleetwood Town, not Leicester, and we cannot afford to let people walk out of the building for free because it would severely hurt the finances of the football club.”
Barton added that he was not aware of any talks between Town and Bolger over a new contract.
However, he said that if Bolger were to leave, the club would remain in a strong position with young players breaking through from the academy.
Former Bristol City and Preston defender Matt Hill’s 16-year-old son James became Fleetwood’s youngest-ever first-team player when he came off the bench at Leicester and held his own alongside Bolger in a baptism of fire.
Barton said: “If he (Bolger) goes, he goes, that is football. People come and go. It is the nature of the beast.
“If he goes there is an opportunity for a young player from our academy to step in and I felt young Hilly was excellent.
“We don’t want anyone at the football club who does not want to be here.
“If Cian thinks his future is at Hull, then we will have a conversation with him and I’m sure Andy Pilley and the Hull chairman will sort something out.
“If he is with us, then great because he has been first-class round the place. He has not been a moment of bother.
“He has trained properly and applied himself – not as well as he probably could on Tuesday night but he was not the only one.”
Former Blackpool favourite Wes Hoolahan is no longer training with Town and The Gazette understands he is exploring options elsewhere for financial reasons.
Barton said: “He trained with us for a couple of days and it is left where it is left.
“Wes knows where we are and how we conduct ourselves, and if he wants to play for Fleetwood I’m sure we will have a conversation about that.”