Joey Barton has urged his Fleetwood Town players not to squander what could their only chance of promotion to the Championship.
READ MORE: Town must start winning to attract players this month says Barton
Barton’s men host Shrewsbury Town on Saturday, having won only one of their seven League One games since November. They have slipped to 11th but are only three points outside the play-off zone and have a game or two in hand on all but one of the teams above them.
Barton said: “We want to mount a serious promotion challenge this year. We are ahead of where we were at this stage last year. That has to be something we can latch on to.
“If we managed to see through those last few minutes at Burton (where Town lost 1-0 last weekend) we’d have been six unbeaten in the league.
“We have to start again against Shrewsbury, which won’t be easy. It’s disappointing but there’s a long way to go and a lot of winnable games against teams who will be in the promotion picture.
“If we don’t get the job done we’ll have no-one to blame but ourselves. The league is wide open – it might not be next year.
“There may not be a tomorrow. There may be two or three big sides who drop out of the division above and you might not get an opportunity next year. When opportunity presents itself you have to be ready.
“We have some senior players who may never get another shot at getting Fleetwood out of this division or at playing in the division above themselves unless it’s with us.
“We’re trying to achieve something that’s never been achieved at this football club.”
Barton admits that players and staff alike are having to learn fast.
He added: “I’m halfway through my contract with many positives. We haven’t won as many games as I’d like because I’d like to have won every one, but we’re learning and as a young coach that’s all you can do.
“I’m not perfect. I don’t know everything. I just try my best along with the rest of the coaching staff.
“I don’t think I’m the real deal who has all the answers but I will be going to find solutions because that’s my job.”