Bristol Rovers boss explains why he allowed defender to join promotion rival Tranmere ahead of reunion

Tom Davies, was a player that Joey Barton was willing to let leave last summer after his contract was up at Bristol Rovers

<p>Joey Barton had discussion with Tom Davies but allowed him to leave for Tranmere Rovers. (Photo by Pete Norton/Getty Images)</p>

Joey Barton had discussion with Tom Davies but allowed him to leave for Tranmere Rovers. (Photo by Pete Norton/Getty Images)

Bristol Rovers manager Joey Barton said it was his decision to allow defender Tom Davies to leave for Tranmere Rovers.

The centre-back is due to line up against the club that employed him for two seasons, when the Gas travel to Prenton Park on Saturday.

Davies, who played 19 times in the 2019/20 season, but was then loaned out to Barrow last year, was one of a number of players released last summer.

The 29-year-old did not play under Barton, as he was on loan last season, eventually left and joined Tranmere, who are competing for a play-off spot.

“For the way that I wanted to play in terms of being aggressive in the defensive phase, I felt that mobility was going to be key,” explained Barton in his reason why Davies didn’t remain at the Memorial Stadium.

“I hadn’t seen him and he had similar problems with his knees as Ali Koiki had and he had some knee surgeries.

“Tom was struggling for a rhythm, even at Barrow, he’d play one week and then miss a few games.

“He’d play a couple of games and I didn’t feel like I could offer him a contract, based on that performance profile.”

Centre-back Tom Davies has settled in well at Tranmere since leaving Bristol Rovers. (Photo by Pete Norton/Getty Images)

Given the mammoth rebuilding job on his hands last summer, Barton was unable to make an immediate decision on his future and instead recruited Mark Hughes from Accrington Stanley, as well as Connor Taylor from Stoke City.

James Connolly then followed in the centre-back area from Cardiff City, following the departure of Hughes, who retired and took up a coaching gig at Plymouth Argyle.

But he did offer the opportunity to Davies to return to the training ground in Almondsbury and earn a deal, but the former former Coventry defender took up the offer that Micky Mellon had yielded to him.

Since departing Rovers, Davies has gone on to become a regular first-team player and has built up a consistent number of games.

He has made 32 starts in League Two this year, and in half of those, he has recorded 16 clean sheets.

“When I spoke to him on the phone, I was really impressed with him, he was really confident in his ability and what he felt he could offer.

“I offered him the opportunity to come back in pre-season and show me what he could do. He got a good move in the midst of that and you wish him nothing but the best.”

Saturday’s match on the Wirral will be important for both sides’ promotion aspirations with the table tightly contested.

Rovers are two places higher and two points clear, but a positive result for Mellon’s side would overtake them.

And the search for three points is what he believes will be the only thing on the mind of Davies, rather than seeking revenge for allowing him to leave.

Barton said: “I imagine Saturday he will be wanting to show but it will be more on how well his season is going rather than proving me right or wrong.

“It was one of them where it is unfortunate where you can’t keep everybody and there was a decision to be made.

“I wanted more information and Tom got a different opportunity so it worked out well for both of us. We have got a good side and he is in a good side and playing.”