Joey Barton joked Wes Burns might be trialled in central midfield after confirming the forward-turned-defender will be available for Fleetwood Town's clash with Luton Town

Joey Barton embraces Wes Burns
Joey Barton embraces Wes Burns

Fleetwood Town boss Joey Barton joked Wes Burns might be trialled in central midfield after confirming the forward-turned-defender is in contention for the Luton Town clash.

Fleetwood Town boss Joey Barton joked Wes Burns might be trialled in central midfield after confirming the forward-turned-defender is in contention for the Luton Town clash.

Burns was shifted to right-back during Lewie Coyle's three-game suspension before limping off with an ankle knock against Charlton Athletic.

Coyle returned in his place for the win at Bradford City last time out and, with James Wallace now injured, Barton joked that Burns could replace him in the middle of the pitch.

That is unlikely to happen but Barton remained coy on whether Burns will battle it out with Coyle for the defensive slot or fight for a spot in his front three.

Barton said: "Wes is back and available for selection.

"I think with James Wallace out, we might try him in central midfield because he has been so good everywhere else!

"We had some work done on Wednesday and we tick boxes on Friday again on what we want to do tactically to give us the best chance of a result.

"We will have to make those decisions (about where Burns plays).

"The best thing for me is that there are decisions to be made.

"As a coach you always want options, even though they do drive you barmy at times."

The reverse game at Luton was an eventful one for Burns after he missed it with a tight hamstring.

Barton said after the game he was frustrated that Burns only revealed his injury the day before the game, impacting upon Town's selection.

Reflecting upon those comments, Barton said: "I would not say it was particularly criticism.

"It was just a bit of lack of communication on his part and it is important we know where players are with their bodies because you know what they are capable of and you want to protect them from themselves sometimes.

"The last thing they want to do is miss football matches.

"Wes has been first-class for me among a number of players and he has been a real shining light for the team.

"When he came here he was low on confidence and looked like he was second guessing himself an awful lot based on what had gone before.

"I remember having a good chat with in Hungary in pre-season and saying 'you probably look like someone who comes off the bench and makes an impact based on where you are.'

"We had a good heart to heart discussion and most of it was not about his ability but about his self belief.

"That is the one thing about Wes that has grown; it has grown through hard work, work on the training ground, performances on a Saturday and you can see now his shoulders are back.

"It is really good for me as a coach and us as a coaching staff to see young men believe in themselves and believe in what they are capable of.

"Playing games at the level he has been playing in recent weeks not only helps that but helps them grow.

"I do think he has an exciting future as a footballer, certainly at this football club, but I do think he is capable of playing at a higher level."