Fleetwood Town boss Joey Barton is bracing himself for enquiries concerning his star players before the summer transfer window closes tomorrow.
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Town have had a summer of speculation linking Championship clubs with Cian Bolger, Kyle Dempsey and Alex Cairns.
All three started Town’s 1-0 defeat to AFC Wimbledon on the opening day, but as Thursday’s 5pm deadline looms, Barton is preparing for clubs to declare an interest in those players as well as others in his squad.
At the same time, he has not ruled out adding to his squad if someone who will improve on what he has becomes available.
First-time manager Barton is heading into uncharted territory, having joked that he would be confiscating his players’ phones as August 9 neared.
He said of the deadline: “Who knows? I’m surmising we will be tested for some of our players and obviously, if we can upgrade, then we will look to do that.
“That is the thing about this period – we just are not sure what is going to come!
“You can prepare yourself for anything but you never know who is going to test your arm for some of your players. If we can get through the transfer window with what we have got, we will be more than happy.
“If we can upgrade it, then great but we have a great set of lads here.
“We believe in them and the staff believe in them, and we are more than confident that in the next 45 matches they will start showing just why we have got that belief.”
Four of Barton’s 10 summer signings made their debuts against the Dons: skipper Craig Morgan, Tommy Spurr and Ched Evans all started, while Barton’s former Burnley team-mate Dean Marney came off the bench.
For Morgan (back) and Marney (knee), it was their first league outing of 2018 due to injury, while loanees Evans and Spurr also had an injury-hit 2017-18.
That, said Barton, needs to be remembered as the new signings settle in and prepare to try and bounce back at Oxford on Saturday.
He said of Evans: “The lads could have given him a bit of support because I felt he was a little lonely at times up there, fighting their two centre-halves. His effort and application is first-class.
“We have got to remember he has missed a lot of game time, the same with Dean Marney. It will take a bit of time for them to come to the boil, but for effort and application I cannot fault them.”