Joey Barton’s challenge to Fleetwood Town youngsters following FA Youth Cup exit

Fleetwood Town's James Hill
Fleetwood Town's James Hill

Fleetwood Town’s exit from the FA Youth Cup this week could open the door to first-team opportunities for some of the club’s talented teenagers.

Joey Barton hinted after Tuesday’s Leasing.com Trophy exit against Accrington Stanley that some of Town’s youth team players could have been involved but for their FA Youth Cup tie the following evening at Millwall.

Town’s impressive run to the fourth round of the under-18s tournament ended with a 3-1 defeat at The Den and Barton said: “We were asking the young lads to show us this month: can they step up for us?

“I think some of them have given a great account of themselves, so I’m really pleased with that.

“James Hill, Barry Baggley, Dylan Boyle, Carl Johnston – there were a couple of young lads we wanted to have a look at.

“But because they’ve done so well in the Youth Cup and play a massive game down at Millwall, I didn’t want to jeopardise Simon (Wiles, team boss) and the youth team. You only get one chance at the Youth Cup.

“It was a tough one because we want to see them in a first-team environment and the first team comes first, but they had done ever so well knocking Watford out of the last round.

“We wanted them at full strength at Millwall.

“They are really good signs for the club.

“We won’t be going to Wembley in the League Cup, the FA Cup or the Leasing.com Trophy, but we might visit Wembley.

“Hopefully we don’t and we get it (promotion) done automatically, but I’ll take a play-off final at Wembley and I believe we can get one.”

The Fleetwood youth team took the lead at Millwall thanks to a Kian Makepeace penalty but the Lions hit back with three second-half goals in south London, despite having Chibuike Ezennolim sent off.