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Checkatrade Trophy

#EveryGameMatters: Joey Barton

11 September 2018

Joey Barton has experience as a player both at the highest level and coming up through a Premier League academy; now he is the manager of Sky Bet League One side, Fleetwood Town.

Barton took the reins in the summer, and since an opening day defeat, his team are unbeaten – quite the start.

The season that is about to unfold is bound to be a steep learning curve for the 36-year-old, so getting as many games under his belt is important for him, not only for the experience but to get a better understanding of his entire squad.

On Tuesday evening, Barton’s side will make their bow in the Checkatrade Trophy against Leicester City U21s.

“It’s a challenging schedule, and I love it,” he explained when talking to the EFL.

“I enjoy working on the training ground with my players, but sometimes as a coach, you only learn in matches when there is an intensity to play. The more games I can get under my belt as a young manager, the more experience that gives me which will help me in becoming better.

“This is what we do it for. We love training, but nothing replicates matches. You learn more about your players and yourself – that's why the Checkatrade Trophy is great, it gets us out on the pitch.

“I see it as a really good opportunity for players to stake a claim to be a regular fixture in our team.”

The prospect of facing a Premier League Academy side isn’t daunting for the Cod Army either; Barton believes there are plenty of positives that can be taken from that opportunity too.

Barton’s talent as a player was harnessed in the youth set-ups of Everton, Liverpool and Manchester City. His first taste of men's football came for the latter as a 21-year-old against Bolton Wanderers in the Premier League.

A lot of the players his team will come up against tonight will be younger than that and will be exposed to playing against Fleetwood players who have been battling in the EFL for many years.

“The format of the competition makes a lot of sense,” said Barton.

“It not only gives us more games but allows us to look at players that we could potentially take on loan and help develop.

“It gives those players real football. Those players need to go into the real world of football and play against men who have mortgages to pay and a lot on the line. It can be a real learning experience for them; the more opportunities young players get to sample it, the better.

“All that is good. But there is one thing about this competition that jumps out at me – it’s a chance to play at Wembley.

“No player at any level can underestimate what an opportunity that is. To have all your support in preparing for a cup final is great. It’s a magical place, to go there and play for something meaningful, and as a football fan, it’s second to none.”

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