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Barton hails debutant Whelan for showing 'Premier League and international class'

The veteran Ireland midfielder had his first outing for Fleetwood Town on Saturday.

Glenn Whelan pictured prior to Ireland's Euro 2020 qualifier away to Switzerland in October.
Glenn Whelan pictured prior to Ireland's Euro 2020 qualifier away to Switzerland in October.
Image: PA Wire/PA Images

FLEETWOOD TOWN MANAGER Joey Barton was delighted with the contribution of Glenn Whelan in his debut for the League One club on Saturday.

Despite not playing a game since 21 December, Whelan came through all 90 minutes as Fleetwood played out a goalless draw away to Bristol Rovers which keeps them four points shy of a play-off spot.

After a short spell in the Scottish Premiership with Hearts, the veteran Republic of Ireland midfielder has joined Fleetwood for the remainder of the season. 

“I thought he played well,” Barton told the club’s website of his newest recruit’s display. “He’s new to the group and the system we play and having only been in and around since Tuesday, he showed us why we have brought him into the group.

“For a debut for a new team and to come to a place like this, he showed that Premier League and international class. He added a calmness to our team and he was always at the hub of our play. With Glenn we have added some really quality into the side.”

As well as seeking to aid the club’s promotion challenge, Whelan hopes his spell at Fleetwood can keep him in contention at international level.

The Dubliner, who turned 36 this month, has taken his tally of caps to 91 under Mick McCarthy. Ireland’s bid to qualify for Euro 2020 resumes with a play-off away to Slovakia on 26 March.

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coventry-city-v-fleetwood-town-sky-bet-league-one-ricoh-arena Fleetwood Town manager Joey Barton. Source: Chris Radburn

Whelan is back in League One for the first time since 2005, when he helped Sheffield Wednesday to achieve promotion via the play-offs.

“If I’m not playing and not playing well, I’ve got no chance for internationals,” he told the Blackpool Gazette after Saturday’s game. “I hope to stay fit and healthy, and hopefully help Fleetwood to get a few results to stay in contention.

“I’ve been around a long time and have a lot of experience. I’ve also got out of this league, so I know what it takes. It’s a tough league and Fleetwood have done really well so far. A couple of wins back-to-back can give us a good push up the league.”

Fleetwood are back in action tomorrow night with a home game against fourth-placed Coventry City. 

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Paul Dollery

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