Fleetwood's Joey Barton takes swipe at Sunderland as Portsmouth boss Kenny Jackett weighs up his Gillingham options
Kenny Jackett will be glad an irate Joey Barton won’t be part of his thought process when a decision is finally made on Pompey’s forthcoming fixture with Gillingham.
That’s after the outspoken former Manchester City midfielder had a go at Sunderland for cancelling their game with the Cod Army because of international call-ups.
The Blues’ League One game against the Gills, scheduled for the same day – Saturday, October 12 – could suffer the same outcome.
Pompey will have three of their first-team squad away with their respective international sides, giving the PO4 outfit the discretion to cancel the game.
Craig MacGillivray (Scotland), Ross McCrorie, (Scotland under-21s) and Ronan Curtis (Republic of Ireland) are scheduled to link up with their national set-ups that weekend.
And all three were missing when the decision was made to postpone the game with Southend last month under similar circumstances.
The Blues, who currently sit 19th in the table following a below-par start to the season, will make their verdict after their trip to Doncaster Rovers on Saturday.
Sunderland have wasted no time, though, in coming to a conclusion, following call-ups for Jon McLoughlin (Scotland), Conor McLaughlin and Tom Flanagan (both Northern Ireland).
And that decision hasn’t gone down well with Barton.
He’s accused the Black Cats of running scared, with his side currently two places and a point better off than Jack Ross’ side.
Barton said: ‘It’s a strange one because we were really looking forward to the game.
‘At this moment, we’ll beat anyone, anywhere at any time.
‘Smartly, Sunderland have decided to rearrange the game.
‘If I was in their position and looked at their momentum, our momentum, their team and our team I would have done the same.
‘If Joey Barton and Fleetwood rock into town and do what we can do and what we showed last season at home and away, with a group which is nowhere near as strong as it is now, for Jack Ross, we are the last team that you want to face given their situation.
‘They have to play us at some time because you have to play everyone twice.
‘It’s smart to avoid us, because they know if they play us now there’s only one outcome.’