Souttar has been ever-present on loan for Fleetwood this season, making 31 appearances in League One and Barton has been impressed with the 21-year-old.

"Soutts was top-class at Sunderland last week," Barton told The Blackpool Gazette.

"We've know that for a while. He has had his season disrupted a little by Australian international duty. He came in a little behind our group but has just gone from strength to strength.

"He’s shown enormous maturity. He has changed a couple of things in terms of his personal regime and lifestyle, and it’s really paying dividends.

"It’s always nice to see a young player come in and start to show the quality Soutts does and he’s turning into an outstanding defender.

"We have some really good players, all desperate to improve."

Fleetwood are in eighth spot in League One, just two points below sixth-placed Oxford United, and pushing for a birth in the play-offs.