Fleetwood Town are currently enjoying a fine run of form in League One as the season heads into the final stages, with Joey Barton’s side sat in sixth place in the table heading into the weekend.
Barton’s side managed to pick up their 16th league win of the campaign on Tuesday night against Ipswich Town, with a 1-0 win extending their unbeaten run to ten matches, and meaning they moved to within just four points of second placed Rotherham United.
One player who has been highly influential during their recent run of form in the league has been Glenn Whelan, with the experienced midfielder having arrived at Fleetwood on a deal until the end of the season towards the end of the January transfer window, after he had been released by Scottish side Hearts.
The 36-year-old has slotted seamlessly into Fleetwood’s midfield, helping to provide some real experience and protection in front of the back four, and Barton has made him a vital part of the side during the last nine matches, since he made his league debut for the club in a goalless draw away to Bristol Rovers.
Whelan’s arrival at the club has culminated in Fleetwood going on an impressive run, which has provided Barton’s side with a real platform for going on and potentially earning promotion to the Championship this term – and keeping the midfielder fit will be key to whether they are able to secure a top six finish come the end of the campaign.
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Here then, we take a closer look at Whelan’s performances since his arrival and assess just how much of an impact he has made…
Whelan’s arrival at Fleetwood has added an extra vital bit of experience and quality to the heart of their midfield, and it is no surprise that Barton has entrusted the 36-year-old to be a consistent starter in League One over the last month or so.
The experienced midfielder has been able to show his technical quality in possession and ability to keep things simple and help retain possession for Fleetwood, with Whelan having averaged a passing accuracy of 80.3% so far during his nine League One appearances.
However, it is not just Whelan’s ability at helping to retain possession with simple passes that has seen him have an impact on the side, but also his ability to switch the play and release Fleetwood’s attacking players higher up the pitch – and that has been evidenced by him averaging a 42.4% accuracy on his long passes.
Given Whelan’s vast experience and proven ability to play at the highest level throughout his career, it is little surprise to see that his reading of the game and protection to the back four are his key strengths in the Fleetwood side, which has seen him make 4.08 interceptions per game and also 10.09 recoveries per match for Barton’s side.
The 36-year-old is also an able ball winner in the middle of the pitch, having managed to win 51.9% of his duels and also winning 2.55 aerial duels per game, which has been vital in helping Fleetwood concede just four goals in their last nine League One matches.
Were Barton’s side to keep the midfielder fully fit between now and the end of the season that could prove to be the key to them managing to finish inside the top six.