Joey Barton has confirmed that young goalkeeper Billy Crellin will start in goal for Fleetwood Town in the FA Cup at Barnet on Sunday.
Crellin has been tipped for the top by the Town boss and Barton says he owes it to the England junior international to give him more game-time.
The Fylde coast native was yesterday named in the England Under-20 squad to face Portugal next Thursday and Iceland the following Tuesday.
Crellin, who signed a new contract last month keeping him at Highbury until 2022, has made only one senior appearance for Town, in an EFL Trophy defeat by Rochdale in October last year.
Although he has had a brief loan spell at National League side Chorley this season, Barton sees tomorrow’s tie in north London as the perfect opportunity to test his mettle.
“Billy Crellin is a good keeper and he will start on Sunday for us,” Barton said. “He’s somebody we want to develop because we think he can be a fantastic player for our football club and we’ve got to give him games.
“Due to his international call-up he’s not available for the Oldham game (in the EFL Trophy next Wednesday). We would have liked to put him in there.
“Bill signed a new deal and I said to him, ‘Look, I’ll give you opportunities to play.’ I’ve got to do that. He needs it as part of his development.
“The chairman is a bit worried because he wants to win in the cup but we’re more than ready for that.
“Bill’s ready, he’s good to go and I want to see how he handles the intensity.
“It’s not a reserve game. It’s not a game we can afford to take lightly – it’s a game that matters. I know it’s not the league but it’s a game we want to win.
“We want to go down to the Hive and give a fantastic account of ourselves. We want cup football at Highbury and we fancy our chances against anyone at our stadium. We’ve lost track away from home. I expect us to get fully back on track on Sunday.”
Town have lost their last two games on the road and Barton added: “If we don’t do what we can do, and if we have that immaturity away from home, we’ll get punished.
“If we perform like we did in the first 45 minutes against Barnet and we get ourselves into a tricky spot, then we could well get dumped out of the cup.
“If I was Barnet, I’d fancy playing us. I think they’ll see us as a legitimate scalp.
“They’ll be fancying their chances of causing a cup upset and that’s the challenge our lads have to take on. If they don’t take it on, then they don’t deserve to be in the FA Cup.”
The tie is one of several kicking off at 12.45pm on Sunday in order to feature in the BBC's extended highlights package.