Fleetwood Town take no risks with striker’s fitness

Joey Barton and Ash Hunter
Joey Barton and Ash Hunter

Fleetwood Town head coach Joey Barton expects striker Ash Hunter to shake off a niggle in time for tonight’s final pre-season game at Chorley.

Hunter missed Saturday’s 3-1 win over Morecambe due to a niggle, and with options across the forward line, Barton did not want to risk exacerbating the 22-year-old’s injury.

It paid dividends as Conor McAleny and Wes Burns both racked up the minutes and found themselves on the scoresheet at the Globe Arena.

Barton is set to field a strong squad littered with first team personel tonight as the players who did not start against Morecambe bid to stake their claim for a starting spot against AFC Wimbledon on Saturday.

Barton said: “Ash just had a little niggle; he is someone who we have to protect.

“We know his quality, he should be fine to play in the game on Monday night – I don’t see that being a problem.

“But we felt we needed to get minutes into Conor, Wes, and as Ash had started at Tranmere last week and had a little niggle this week, we thought it would be very foolish of us to risk him.

“The last thing you want to do is pick up any needless injuries in pre-season friendly games.

“Hopefully he gets the all clear; he has done some work with the physios and come through fine so he should be bob on for Monday and Wimbledon.”

Barton also revealed that James Wallace is a doubt for this evening’s match but that Chris Long should finally make a second debut for the club.

He has been playing catch-up on his team-mates after suffering from a blister, something Barton acknowledged was one of the trials and tribulations of pre-season.

He said: “Wallace should train with us in the next couple of days.

“I don’t think he will play on Monday but Chris Long should play on Monday.

“He is about 10 days behind the lads in terms of the state of play when he comes in.

“He is catching up very quickly so we hope to get him some minutes on Monday.

“He has not trained because he has got a blister!

“It is the trials and tribulations of pre-season, lads have new boots and their feet soften up over the summer so you go through this period all the time.

“He is a Huyton lad like myself and I’m very surprised that people where I am from miss training sessions due to blisters but this is the nature of modern day football!”