Joey Barton says Fleetwood Town have to accept Harry Souttar’s three-match ban despite only having one senior centre-half for today’s game with Peterborough United.
Town lost their appeal against Souttar’s red card in the 4-2 defeat at Barnsley last Saturday.
The Stoke City loanee was shown a straight red at Oakwell following an aerial challenge with Cameron McGeehan, meaning he now serves a three-match ban.
That leaves Barton with just Ash Eastham as a recognised senior centre-half as skipper Craig Morgan is also ruled out through injury.
Nathan Sheron can feature there but has mainly been used as a defensive midfielder this season.
Town have recalled Lewis Baines from his loan spell at National League North side Stockport County with U18 player James Hill also a candidate.
Barton said: “It is what it is, the referee had a better view of it than me.
“Soutts, in my opinion, put his arm up to protect himself; it was not a swinging arm.
“If the referee deems it a red card and we have gone through the appeals process and exhausted that, then it is what it is. We have to accept it and move on.”
Town also have Jack Sowerby and Jason Holt expected to miss the final five games, while Dean Marney and James Wallace are still out.
Though opportunities could be there for younger players, Barton insists he will be picking a side to win this afternoon.
He said: “At the moment we only have one senior fit centre-half.
“We only have a couple of midfielders due to injuries and suspensions and what not. It does create an opportunity for someone else.
“There are a lot of young players that have been chomping at the bit recently and want to test themselves as professional footballers.
“One person’s misfortune can be somebody else’s opportunity.
“If we can blood younger players, as we have shown over the course of the season, we maybe have to use one of them.
“I was a young British player who was given an opportunity and managed to take it.
“There are many of us out there who have done the same. Our young players just need opportunities.
“If we can create that for them then they usually go on and show what a good player they can be.”