Contract decision deadline looms for Antony Evans as Bristol Rovers seek clarity

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Bristol Rovers are hoping to hear of Antony Evans’ decision at the end of this week, but what are the chances of him staying?

Joey Barton last week provided an update on Bristol Rovers supporters on the situation with their out-of-contract players and what their intentions are.

A total of 12-first team players were allowed to leave including Cian Harries, Glenn Whelan and Leon Clarke, though the door has not been shut on some who could return later this summer.

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It left Barton with a squad of 19 first-team players to choose from next season, however some of them like Sam Heal, Jamie Egan and Harvey Greenslade have not played a competitive match for the club.

And whilst they left, the door wasn’t closed on some, the likes of Alex Rodman and Anssi Jaakkola, have seemingly been given a longer stay than expected, despite the initial belief that they were out of contract.

Ultimately though, the most absent names from the retained list was Antony Evans and Sam Nicholson, two vital players.

The list was instead of those who had been allowed to leave the Memorial Stadium, rather than who was staying.

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Barton did clarify however that there were talks between the club and Evans’ representatives over a new deal.

Said five days ago whilst appearing on BBC Radio Bristol, Barton said: “We’re in discussions with Antony and his agent and we’re hoping to get in the next week to 10 days some closure, one way or the other. But we remain optimistic that Evo wants to spearhead a successful season for us next season."

As we move closer to that seven day to ten day time frame it will be interesting to see where things go from here.

Evans is well within his rights to explore what options are available to him given the quality he has shown.

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Already a few of those in League Two have made the step up to either the Championship or League One with Ebou Adams putting pen-to-paper on a deal with Cardiff City, whilst his boss Rob Edwards has left to join Watford.

The life of a footballer is a very short one and there could be opportunities that can protect him financially moving forward.

That is not to say that Rovers don’t have the financial resources to give him the deal he deserves. When James Belshaw’s contract extension was announced, he said that it was down to players being rewarded, even if they were in contract.

Promotion to the third tier was the first part of what was needed to keep him at the club, now there needs to be a deal worthwhile to keep him. His first deal was a one-year contract which benefited both the club and him to see if the two were a fit. After his success this season, if he were to stay then it would almost for certain be longer than a year.

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Rovers were the club that gave Evans a platform when he was on the lookout for a new club after a difficult spell at German club Paderborn.

There is a hope that the commitment the club showed him when he wasn’t at his best could be rewarded with him staying.

Already, Barton has spoken about the desire to challenge again next season which would excite any current player as well as any prospective ones that are keen to join the journey.

He said that Evans could be a ‘major’ player and if they are to be successful then they must retain the ‘talent’ they have already. Those are the words that any player would want to hear that the team could be built around you.

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Wael al-Qadi in the immediate aftermath of Rovers’ promotion was confident players would want to stay and the club chairman has more than backed Barton when he’s been asked to part with the finances.

And as it stands, there’s optimism around the place that Evans will stay but time waits for no man and given the importance of starting off strongly next season.

And that brings us to whether we will see new signings any time soon with fans eager to see new faces through the door to act as a form of excitement during th off season.

Go backto almost a year ago and Rovers announced the signings of four new players after their relegation from League One. Mark Hughes, Nick Anderton, Paul Coutts and Sam Finley were all announced as new signings, acting as a remedy for what was a frustrating campaign.

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Hughes’ failed to make an impact but Anderton, Coutts and Finley were all pivotal in getting the club promoted. Getting those transfers done early helped them settle in better and in an ideal world, transfer business would be done early so the club knew where they were at when they begin pre-season.

Former transfer targets like Callum Camps and James Norwood have become available on a free transfer whilst Matt Butcher and Tyler Walker have been linked in recent days.

The transfer window doesn’t officially open until June 10 and the club may be keeping cards close to their chest to avoid rivals from stealing any players from under their noses.

Championship clubs like Bristol City and Cardiff have already announced new signings and are confident they will join, whilst Portsmouth have taken a different stance and will not announce any until then. It is part of the EFL’s regulations where the registration period comes in line with the rest of Europe.

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But given the earlier start date due to the World Cup in Qatar this December, there will be an obvious desire to get business done early.

It does depend however on the player when it comes to prospective new signings. Some may want to sort out their futures immediately and then take a rest, whilst for others they will take their time to decide on their futures.

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