Joey Barton was delighted to see the resurgence of Kyle Dempsey continue at Southend United and warned that the Fleetwood Town midfielder is only going to continue getting better.
READ MORE: Barton rues dropped points at Southend
Dempsey, who turns 24 today, had made his first League One start of the season a week earlier in the win over Oxford United, when Barton hailed him the game’s outstanding player.
He carried on at Roots Hall, scoring his first league goal in 18 months which looked like being the winner until Steve Humphrys’ second equaliser of the afternoon made it 3-3 and secured the managerless Shrimpers’ first point of the season.
And the Town boss is convinced the best of Dempsey is yet to come as he reaps the rewards for the sacrifices he has made.
Barton said: “Demps is coming along really nicely and it’s a massive boost for the group.
“We’ve kind of been crying out for a player to come and light that number eight position up and credit to Demps.
“He had a little bit of a setback pre-season with an injury but he has come back strongly from it.
“We won’t see the best of Demps for probably another five or 10 games but he’s done well and was one of a number of stand-out performers.
“We want good players with the right attitude and I speak for any manager up and down the land.
“I’m not saying Kyle’s attitude was wrong last season but it just wasn’t aligned to where our group was and where we wanted to take our group.
“He deserves enormous credit because he is desperate to be part of it and has put in the hard work.
“He’s sacrificed things off the pitch in his own personal time to get himself into the position to perform in the manner he has, and Demps in particular should be really buoyed by his performance.”