Harry Souttar has paid tribute to Joey Barton after being named the EFL young player of the month for February.
The giant Scot, who now plays international football with Australia through his mother, has played just twice for Stoke in League Cup ties but has started 32 league games this season in his second spell on loan with Fleetwood.
“He (Barton) has created a great culture and he’s one of the main reasons I came back,”says Souttar.
On his award, he commented: “Obviously when I got the text saying I’d won the award it was a nice feeling.
“I don’t think it’s only me that could take the award. I think that the whole back four and the keeper have been excellent and since we’ve had the new players in January and the new formation we’ve settled in quite quickly.
“It’s all those boys at the back who kept them clean sheets and put us on the run that we’re on.
Souttar is due back at Stoke at the end of the season when manager Michael O’Neill will decide on the next step in his career.
He has been overtaken among the younger centre halves by Nathan Collins, while Ryan Shawcross, Danny Batth and Liam Lindsay are also on the payroll as things stand.
And James Chester could be added if O’Neill wants to make his loan move permanent.