Joey Barton says Fleetwood Town trio Conor McAleny, Gethin Jones and Kyle Dempsey will have the opportunity to fight for their shirt in pre-season.
However, he also warned them that, if he does not see an improvement on what he witnessed before their January loan moves away, then he will look to move them on.
McAleny and Dempsey arrived in the summer of 2017, while Jones signed a long-term deal in January 2018.
It was hoped McAleny would fill the shoes of David Ball but his time with the club has been hit by injuries.
He netted five times in 34 appearances last season and was unable to feature regularly once Barton arrived.
However, a loan move to Kilmarnock has been disrupted by injuries with three goals in 10 games.
His fellow former Evertonian, Jones, failed to nail down a regular spot under Barton, nor his predecessors, Uwe Rosler and John Sheridan.
He joined Mansfield Town on loan and made his 11th start for the Stags in their 3-2 Easter Monday defeat at Oldham Athletic.
Dempsey was a regular starter before Barton’s arrival, having turned his loan spell into a permanent deal.
He has made six starts and five substitute appearances at Peterborough United, having fallen out of favour since Darren Ferguson’s return.
When asked if the trio have a future at Town, Barton said: “I’d be surprised with all three of them.
“They left us because we did not feel they would impact the first team.
“In Dempsey’s case he has not played a great deal.
“Conor Mac has been in and out. He has done OK when he has played but again, injuries have held him back.
“I think Gethin is one of the few who has managed to go into the team, out of the team and back in.
“They are under contract here and they will have the opportunity to fight for their places.
“Based on what we have seen in the first part of the year and the reasons they were sent out on loan they have a lot of hard work to do to get back into my plans.
“If they want to be players and play here then no doubt they will show me that in the pre-season and earn a starting spot.
“These are lads who were frustrated by a lack of opportunities and decided to chance themselves elsewhere.
“We will see where they are in pre-season but they have got to do something that they have not done before because if they do what they did before I will probably look to be moving them on.”