Fenton played with Beattie at Ewood Park.
"But in those days James wasn't as physical as he is now. He has really added a lot to his game," Fenton told the Lancashire Telegraph.
"James really wanted to play for Blackburn because I think it was his hometown club, but sometimes it is best for you to move away from your home town and experience different things.
"I found that when I moved to Aston Villa, and I think it was the same with him."