Bristol Rovers to hold contract talks with ‘new signing’

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Joey Barton's got a 'new signing' that he could call upon in the next few weeks as he reveals the state-of-play with out-of-contract players.

Josh Grant could feature for Bristol Rovers before the end of the season as he resumes training in a bid to earn a new contract at the club.

The former Chelsea man has made just one appearance all season in an injury plagued season, a late substitute in Bristol Rovers’ win over Oxford United in August.

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A knee injury has kept the 24-year-old out for season, however Grant has returned to training and may be in contention for the matchday squad with the visit of Derby County to the Memorial Stadium on Saturday.

“Josh Grant was back with the group for the first time today,” Barton said. “Everybody is delighted to see Josh because he definitely gives us another bit of quality.”

His contract is set to expire at the end of the season, however Barton mentioned that talks will be upcoming to extend Grant’s stay in Bristol, with all focus being on his recovery over any contract talks.

He added: “The games come at us thick and fast, getting Josh back will be like a new signing. It’s so pleasing to see him out there, he’s feeling really good and long may that continue.”

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“We haven’t quite finalised, I haven’t got a signature on the contract but there’s a few of our boys now we’re in a spot where I didn’t want anybody getting the focus mixed up with a contract negotiation and then your focus isn’t on what you’re doing on a day-to-day basis.”

Grant has undergone two knee surgeries this season, as well as missing a chunk of last season, making 21 appearances as his side would win promotion.

The midfielder would be one of the shining lights in a poor season in the side Barton took over when he joined the club, as the Gas finished bottom of League One in the 2020/21 season, and the Rovers boss has been a fan of the England u20 international since.

“We spoke about him getting the operation. From the club’s perspective, it’s a significant chunk of change to help Josh get the operation. It was something we did speak about, we said you need to get this however long it takes.”

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Barton spoke about wanting to wait until his side knew what league they would be playing in next season before beginning contract talks, but back to back wins over the Easter weekend has put his side 13 points above the drop zone with a game in hand, and although not yet mathematically certain it looks like the Gas will be a League One side next season.

“For me, the key was to get to our threshold,” he said.  “We’re still not there yet, we wanted to get to the 52 point mark and we’re 51 points now. It’s sensible now we open negotiations with five or six of our players, some who are in contract who will want to extend and the other lads who are out of contract and want to keep with us for the next stage of our build.”

“We’ve got to learn to run but only after we’ve learned to walk. I think this year was a huge learning curve. We’ve got to keep adding to the group and pushing the standard if we want to be a promotion thinking team in the near future.”

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