Joey Barton says Fleetwood Town's Leeds United loan star Lewie Coyle has a fight on to reclaim the right-back role for Saturday’s visit to Bradford City.
READ MORE: Joey Barton thanks Fleetwood fans for backing Ched Evans after deadline drama
And the Town boss brushed aside fears that the full-back’s “outstanding” replacement Wes Burns faces an injury lay-off.
Forward Burns, 24, has dropped back to right-back while Leeds United loanee Coyle served his three-match suspension.
Coyle was sent off in the 1-1 draw at Rochdale last month, since when Burns has impressed in the role in the League One games against AFC Wimbledon, Scunthorpe United and Charlton Athletic, two of which Town won.
Burns limped off in the 83rd minute of Saturday’s 1-0 win over the Addicks, though Barton does not believe he is doubtful for this weekend’s trip to face the Bantams.
And the Town boss added that Burns’ form means Coyle will not walk back into the team automatically and add to his 31 appearances this season.
Barton said: “I’m not sure but I think Wes just rocked his ankle.
“Coyley is back on Saturday but I think it is going to be tough to shift Wes out of the right- back slot.
“I said to Wes, ‘You have number seven on your squad shirt but we might have to think about making it number two next season’.
“Wes and myself had a bit of a giggle about it but he has been outstanding.
“He has been a real bonus – Wimbledon, Scunthorpe and against Charlton on Saturday he was exceptional again. He has given us a real problem there.
“If we had lost Ched Evans (a target for Bolton Wanderers on deadline day) we would probably have had to put Wes back into that frontline because we would have been a bit light in there.
“Thankfully we still have Ched and now we have some nice problems.
Coyley is coming back. He’s been a great player for the team but they have a fight on for that jersey now because Wes has been exceptional.”