JOEY Barton has revealed he almost signed Dwight McNeil before the winger made his big Burnley breakthrough.

The Fleetwood boss and former Clarets midfielder came close to taking the top Turf Moor prospect on loan last summer.

But Sean Dyche decided to keep the teenager around due to his side's Europa League commitments, McNeil going on to make 25 appearances in all competitions, scoring three goals.

That left Barton wondering what might have been, the 19-year-old part of the Clarets side that won 2-0 in their pre-season friendly at Fleetwood on Tuesday night.

"We almost weirdly got Dwight McNeil on loan last season," said the former midfielder, who had two spells in East Lancashire.

"But the gaffer (Dyche) decided to keep him in at the last minute because of the Europa League.

"If we'd have got him, we'd have had a player on our hands.

"I remember him from when I was there, but he was like a stick insect.

"You always see the younger lads, but when they join in, you sit up and take notice, and Dwight was probably a little bit smaller.

"But having almost got him on loan, I've been watching his development and going 'God, if we'd got him, that would have been alright!'

"To be fair to him, he's kicked on and looks a real prospect."

Barton’s Fleetwood finished 11th in League One last year in his first season as a manager.

The 36-year-old was a Championship promotion winner with the Clarets in 2016 before returning after an unsuccessful spell at Rangers in Scotland and was pleased with what he saw from his side in a stern pre-season test.

Ali Koiki and Chris Wood got the goals for the Clarets but Town more than played their part in a game bathed in Fylde Coast sunshine.

"The reality for us is it's a great acid test against a really good football team," Barton said.

"They're probably a week behind us as they start a week later, but even so, they're still a Premier League side with established Premier League players and internationals, so it's a great opportunity for our lads to test themselves and see if the hard work they're putting in can pay off.

"A few lads will come out thinking 'okay, I've got some attributes which maybe, if I keep developing, I can test myself on a more consistent basis against that level of player'."