An underdog story of the modern day. Fleetwood Town find themselves hunting for a potentially historic promotion.
Joey Barton has taken the challenge to try and put Fleetwood on the footballing map by attempting to guide the club to the Sky Bet Championship for the first time in the club’s history, and with Fleetwood not being strangers to successive promotions, the possibility of Championship football at Highbury could soon become reality.
The Cod Army are no strangers to the Sky Bet League One play-offs as during the 2016/2017 campaign they finished in fourth spot but narrowly lost out to Bradford City for the right to play Millwall at Wembley Stadium. But they could soon be heading down to the country’s capital for a play-off final and we look at the key men who might drag Fleetwood to the Sky Bet Championship.
Here at two individuals who have impressed us…
Any team that is looking to play in a division higher next season will have to have a player who consistently puts the ball in the back of the net, and Fleetwood have that player in the form of Paddy Madden. The former Scunthorpe United striker has bagged an impressive 15 goals in Sky Bet League One so far this campaign and has also provided three assists, which shows where his game has come on over the last 12 months.
Typically a ‘fox in the box’, Madden is known for his fast reactions and explosive finishing from within the penalty area with the centre forward always alert to the ball bobbling towards him in a dangerous position. His instinct tends to be to put his laces through the ball to try and beat the goalkeeper through power but also using the bodies in his path to deceive the keeper with a deflection. Alongside strike partner Ched Evans, Fleetwood have the perfect combination of half-chance specialists and selfish centre forwards, which has seen them rise up the table from mid-table obscurity to a late play-off charge.
Madden has added a handful of assists to his name this year, which shows clear development at the tender age of 29. And, with Barton implementing a much more turf-friendly approach this season, there is more onus on Madden to find teammates in better positions than himself to ensure an opportunity on goal.
The Irishman has been the perfect striker for Fleetwood to utilise this season and going forward whilst adding new and exciting dimensions to his game. He has a proven track record of scoring in Sky Bet League One.
Lewie Coyle has been vital so far this year for Fleetwood with his efforts from right-back. He joined the club off the back of three loan spells from former side Leeds United with the move eventually being made permanent in the January window of 2020.
The 24-year-old has made 31 appearances for the Cod Army this season and has contributed five assists in that time. Both the full-backs in Joey Barton’s system at Fleetwood are crucial for the attacking output that they create as there is an emphasis on them almost becoming a wing-back to support the wide midfielders ahead of them. Coyle’s excellent stamina allows him to get up and down the right-hand side of the pitch with great effect and is equally as impressive defending as he is going forward. Despite not boasting great height, Coyle has not struggled against some of the more physical attackers that Sky Bet League One has to offer and has looked comfortable when competing aerially against opponents.