OPINION: Fleetwood Town’s squad can realise a promotion dream

Conor McAleny would love to mark his 26th birthday with a goal at Oxford this weekend
Conor McAleny would love to mark his 26th birthday with a goal at Oxford this weekend

Bar one loan deal yet to arrange, Joey Barton knows the players at his disposal this season after deadline day.

The Fleetwood boss is still able to dip his toe in the loan market but now the permanent transfer window has closed, he knows Ash Hunter, Conor McAleny, Kyle Dempsey, Cian Bolger and Alex Cairns are still at Highbury – a spine that is the envy of many in League One.

This is going to be a big season for McAleny. He is my tip for the golden boot and is capable of netting 20 a season as he heads to a place he has lit up with goals tomorrow. It was his loan spell at Oxford that piqued Fleetwood’s interest in the Everton prospect.

McAleny and Dempsey were the key signings last summer and could both be essential if Town are to battle it out at the top this time.

McAleny’s 2017-18 season was injury-hit, but when I interviewed him yesterday he had casually brushed off those scars of the past and has a clear vision to make his mark.

He will bid to celebrate his 26th birthday this weekend with his first goal of the season.

McAleny would grace any League One team, and with the calibre of summer additions like Ched Evans, Tommy Spurr, Lewie Coyle and Jason Holt there are exciting times ahead at Highbury.

A far cry from the development ethos of recent years, Fleetwood seem focused on building a team littered with league experience, promotion history and players at the latter end of their careers with something still to prove.

Dean Marney and Craig Morgan may need time after missing more than a year with injuries, but they have the quality to get Town up into that top half.

When the club reached the play-off semi-finals two season ago, Uwe Rosler pointed out that his side lacked the experience of opponents Bradford.

But now Joey Barton has that and has inherited some of Rosler’s stars of 2016/17.

This time Dempsey, Bolger, Hunter and Cairns can help that Championship dream to come true.