Bristol Rovers midfielder labelled ‘best midfielder in division’ as Joey Barton not worried about suspension

Signed from Fleetwood Town, Joey Barton’s former club, Sam Finley has been an astute addition. (Photo by Alex Burstow/Getty Images)Signed from Fleetwood Town, Joey Barton’s former club, Sam Finley has been an astute addition. (Photo by Alex Burstow/Getty Images)
Signed from Fleetwood Town, Joey Barton’s former club, Sam Finley has been an astute addition. (Photo by Alex Burstow/Getty Images) | Getty Images
Bristol Rovers manager Joey Barton believes he has the best footballing midfielder in the division and isn’t too worried about a possible suspension looming over him.

Bristol Rovers manager Joey Barton has made a bold claim that Sam Finley is the best midfielder in the division and isn’t worried about a potential suspension looming over him.

Finley has played 22 times for Rovers this season and has cemented himself as one of their key players, first in a midfield trio alongside Glenn Whelan and Paul Coutts, before recently partnering Coutts.

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The former Fleetwood midfielder who worked with Barton at his former club, was recently on the score sheet against Stevenage and assisted Antony Evans on Tuesday against Leyton Orient.

The 29-year-old has notched up four assists and three goals this season and has the perfect blend of being an aggressive midfielder that also has a good technical ability.

So much so, his manager has claimed that he is the best midfielder in the division and outlined his best qualities.

“You talk about Sam’s qualities as being aggressive and on the front foot,” said Barton.

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“I see Sam’s qualities as something completely different. I think he’s an incredible player and a really good footballer.”

“He is probably the best footballing midfielder in the division. If anyone wants a chat about that you’d have to put Sam Finley in that conversation.

“I see all the good things he does on the ball, his tackling is a real bonus that he can do all of that. Usually players with his technical quality and his skill levels tend not to do that.

“We’re lucky that we’ve got Sam that not only has the technical qualities but he’s also got the tenacious qualities that you need if you’re gonna be a top player.”

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Joey Barton believes he has one of the best midfielders in the division in Sam Finley. (Photo by Pete Norton/Getty Images)Joey Barton believes he has one of the best midfielders in the division in Sam Finley. (Photo by Pete Norton/Getty Images)
Joey Barton believes he has one of the best midfielders in the division in Sam Finley. (Photo by Pete Norton/Getty Images) | Getty Images

He added: “You need to have a bit of devilment about you if you’re gonna be a top boy. You’ll usually have a big target on your back and people will test you in many regards.

“I think Sam has shown a level of maturity since he’s been at the club that has grown and grown.

“The fact he got through the Leyton Orient encounter without picking up an extra yellow and not being suspended for this game shows the progress he’s made.”

Finley is walking a tightrope at the moment after accumulating nine yellow cards over 22 games this season.

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Should the 29-year-old pick up one further caution in the next five or so games then he risks being suspended for two matches, so will need to get through the next few games to avoid it.

Finley was suspended for three matches when he was red carded against Port Vale for an off-the-ball incident in front of the linesman. At the time, Rovers had a discipline problem and had and still do the most red cards in the division, but that over the last two months has quickly diminished.

With 14 games remaining in the season, losing a key player to an avoidable issue would slightly affect them given team want their best players available for the end-of-season run in.

However Barton is of the belief that he doesn’t want Finley to change his game up to avoid missing a suspension and will demand what he usually sees from him.

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“If he does then good if he doesn’t then so be it,” admitted Barton.

“He’s a combative midfield player and it’s a combative league and if we’re gonna be successful then those players in those engine rooms are going to have to put their bodies on the line.

“I trust Sam implicitly and his discipline since Port Vale has been exemplary. He hasn’t put a foot out of place and you’ve got to trust your players with that, I only see the positives.

“I only see Sam being excellent in the game, dominating, scoring and creating a goal in the game because that is what he has done ever since he’s come to the football club.”

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