OPINION: Fleetwood Town's Port Vale defeat shows areas to be addressed

Joey Barton, Conor McAleny and Clint Hill chat in training
Joey Barton, Conor McAleny and Clint Hill chat in training

Fleetwood Town’s 1-0 defeat at Port Vale highlighted that boss Joey Barton needed to recruit in central defence if they are to challenge at the top end of League One, something he quickly addressed by snapping up Harry Souttar.

But it is not just central defence that needed work.
Attack is an area that now needs to be the focus of Town’s summer shopping.
Though Paddy Madden and Conor McAleny showed signs of building up a promising relationship in the first half, Town missed the spark of the injured Ash Hunter, and as Josh Morris recovers from a knock, there are concerns to address in attack.
McAleny has been a live-wire in both of Town’s UK-based friendlies.
He looked sharp in the 1-0 win against Wrexham, and again at Vale Park, was the architect of much of Town’s good attacking play.
He hit the post but will his partnership with Madden be as prolific as the one the Irishman forged with Ched Evans last season?
Time will tell but being played as a number 10 is certainly suiting McAleny.
If Barton wants to play with a front two then more support and competition is needed for McAleny and Madden.
The bench showed that.
Seventeen-year-old Michael Fowler was an unused substitute with development squad player Ged Garner coming off the bench and failing to make waves.
Fowler scored the only goal of the game against Wrexham and looks to have a bright future.
But it already seems it will be too soon for him to support Madden and McAleny.
The departures of Evans and Ashley Nadesan have left Town short up top with Barton favouring Hunter, Burns and Morris for the wide roles of a front three.
But even if Town use a front three there is still more competition needed for those central striker roles.
Though the attack certainly is a department that needs strengthening this summer, Danny Andrew limped off with a dead leg and injuries are already a concern.
He joins Craig Morgan, Kyle Dempsey, Jack Sowerby and Dean Marney on the doubtful list for Carlisle with Billy Crellin and Hunter also in the treatment room.
Central midfield is an area that looks enhanced with Paul Coutts and Jordan Rossiter in the engine room, while Barry Baggley also showed some nice flashes of skill late on.
Nevertheless, David Amoo was allowed too much time outside the box to score the only goal and the midfield cannot allow players that time on the ball.
At the back, Nathan Sheron partnered trialist Peter Clarke but they were asked questions by the League Two side.
Sheron was utilised in midfield for the majority of last season, and to grow as a central defender, another loan move might be more beneficial for his development.
Ash Eastham came off the bench, and as Town’s only fully fit senior centre-half, it is a surprise he is not starting.
With Sheron unavailable for the opening day at Peterborough United, Eastham should be starting, especially with Morgan missing chunks of last year.
But Sheron does need minutes in that position to learn the role and what better stage than pre-season?
It was clear, though, from the defensive performance from all at Vale Park, especially in the second half, that Town are crying out for central defensive reinforcements.
Souttar’s return is a much-needed tonic. He certainly made a difference last term and the Stoke City youngster is a key piece of the jigsaw.
With Crellin injured, no sign of trialist Matt Gilks and youngster Ben Cottam not trusted off the bench, it is clear where Town must recruit. Barton has a lot of work and some more shopping to do to turn his squad into promotion contenders.
The recruitment has been exciting thus far, but another goalscorer is key. It is about both boxes and Town need another finisher after adding that much-needed third senior centre-half.
Add Evans to the Souttar signing and you might be looking at a team to make history.