Joey Barton promises strong start on Wembley trail for Fleetwood
Joey Barton has an eye on Wembley as he targets a Checkatrade Trophy cup run.
The Fleetwood boss made 11 changes for Fleetwood’s League Cup tie at Leicester City last month, but Barton says he will be fielding a strong XI against the Foxes cubs in tonight’s Checkatrade group opener at Highbury.
Town host Leicester U21 (7.45pm) before meeting Bury and Rochdale in northern group B.
Town reached the quarter-finals last term before losing to League Two side Yeovil.
And Barton, whose team stretched their unbeaten run in League One to six with Saturday’s 1-1 draw at Sunderland, says he will go strong tonight in a bid to keep the momentum up.
The Town boss said: “We obviously have got one eye on the Checkatrade because financially it is a good competition for the club.
“It is an opportunity to play in a cup final at Wembley, which is realistic for us – maybe unlike the Carabao Cup.
“We will go strong. We want to do as well as we can and progress.
“We want to pick up the habit of winning games. It is a great habit to get into.
“We are on a good little run now and it is important that we protect that.”
The rules of the competition do restrict the scope of teams to make wholesale charges.
At least four of the 10 outfield starters must be players who started the previous first-team fixture or start the next one, players who are among the club’s top 10 for senior appearances this season, players with 40 or more first-team appearances or players on loan from Premier League clubs or Category One academies.
And Barton insists he will go all out for victory tonight, even though winger Wes Burns is suspended.
He added: “I’m going to pick a side to win a game. We do that at every opportunity.
“Even with the selection at Leicester (where Fleetwood lost 4-0), we felt the lads could deliver what we were asking them to deliver.
“Unfortunately on the night they ran into a very good side.
“I’m not sure which way Leicester will go but we will keep our side of the street clean, putting out the best side that we can.”
Fleetwood goalkeeper Billy Crellin played 45 minutes for England Under-19s in yesterday’s 2-1 win away to Belgium.
Crellin, who is on loan at non-league FC United of Manchester, started the friendly in Tubize.