Bobby Thomas Barnsley move explained as Joey Barton unravels Bristol Rovers exit

Bobby Thomas travelled as a Bristol Rovers player on Friday - but is now at their League One rivals.

Joey Barton has revealed that Bobby Thomas asked for Burnley to recall him from his loan at Bristol Rovers. The 21-year-old’s time with the Gas came to an abrupt end and joined their League One rivals Barnsley.

Thomas was due to be a part of the 18-man squad for Rovers’ match with Accrington Stanley at the Wham Stadium. Thomas is involved in a match-day squad however, and is amongst the substitutes at his new club Barnsley in their match with Charlton Athletic in a dramatic turn of events.

“We found out at 9:30 when we were making our way up here,” revealed Barton to BBC Radio Bristol during his pre-match talk. “Bob was obviously in the squad and found that he had asked to be recalled.

“He wants to go and play his trade elsewhere. He’s done fantastic since he has been here. He had a good loan spell and we thank him and Burnley for allowing us his time. At the end of the day, this game is about adapting and overcoming. It’s a bit of a late call on it, we feel we’ve got to make improvements in the defensive part of the team.”

Thomas’ move to Barnsley has left Rovers shortchanged at the back with only James Connolly the only out-and-out centre-back available to Barton. Alfie Kilgour was sold to Mansfield Town this week meanwhile on-loan Everton Lewis Gibson is out with an injury.

Rovers have yet to sign any new players, but Barton is eyeing six new arrivals, including three in defence. Thomas’ exit frees up a loan space with only Josh Coburn and Gibson now the two players they are borrowing from other clubs. EFL rules allow for five loan players in a match-day squad and that is an avenue that Barton wants to explore.

“Obviously it frees up a loan to hopefully find a method to be a bit more frugal on the backline,” admitted the 40-year-old who has seen at least a positive of the termination of the loan deal.

“We know we’re going to have to be patient. It’d be nice if we could go and splash a load of money. Some of the sides have done certainly at the top end of the table.

“We knew the strategy coming in to January. We knew we’d go late in the window. I’ve identified targets to get better. Bobby going back allows us another loan.

“It gives us another opportunity to bring a talented young player in. I’m looking forward to the first of February because then you know what you have in the building. You know what you’re working with and finishing off the season off strongly.”