He considered a play-off bid unlikely last month but now Fleetwood Town boss Joey Barton says a top-six finish is not impossible.
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Town are 10th in League One and seven points behind sixth-placed Peterborough going into Saturday’s clash at Bradford City.
But for Barton the seeds have been sown for a “magical end of the season” since he switched to a 4-3-3 formation after the FA Cup defeat to AFC Wimbledon,
A 2-2 draw with Oxford, 1-1 draw with Rochdale, 3-0 win at the Dons, 1-0 defeat to Scunthorpe and most recently a 1-0 win at home to Charlton have followed.
And that latest victory has given Barton renewed hope of a strong finish.
He said: “I think that since we changed the structure and the shape we have looked less vulnerable.
“We played Scunthorpe and lost without having a shot against us on target.
“Against Wimbledon we were exceptional. They had one shot from distance and then beat West Ham 4-2 after we snuffed them out.
“In the Rochdale game we were brilliant in our defensive way in the first half and were cruising to a win. Well, that is what we hoped on the touchline but the sending-off affected that one.
“The last few performances have been a lot more controlled from a coaching and technical point of view.
“Charlton had a few passages when they had the ball but it was all in controlled territory in their half or in places where we are happy for them to have it.
“It is a good win against a very good side. You do not sit fifth in the table if you are not a good team.
“For us a clean sheet is pleasing, three points is pleasing and Peterborough getting beat on Saturday... I have not given up hope. I don’t think our group have given up hope.
“If we put a run together, who knows? There is always someone who comes out of the pack and our group believe it could be us.
“I’m slowly starting to believe that if we can galvanise we can have a magical end of the season.”
And with 15 games to go, Barton is not ruling anything out. “I don’t think anything is impossible,” he said.
“There are a lot of points to play for. You never know but we have a difficult fixture on Saturday.
“Bradford are in the bottom zone – a massive club in this division fighting for their lives.
“There will be a big crowd there wanting them to get in a safe position and we need to back up a fantastic team performance with another strong one.”