Ex-Liverpool and Newcastle striker held Bristol Rovers talks as Joey Barton moves on to secret signing

Andy Carroll went from almost playing in the Premier League to turning out at the Mem in League One

Joey Barton has admitted that he held discussions with former Liverpool and Newcastle United striker Andy Carroll about a move to Bristol Rovers.

The 33-year-old returned to Championship side Reading on a short-term deal on Thursday afternoon but had held discussions with a host of clubs.

Carroll, a former teammate of Barton had almost gone to Club Brugge in Belgium but a move collapsed, then he almost returned to the Premier League with Wolverhampton Wanderers.

After being released by West Bromwich Albion, Carroll was considered by Wolverhampton Wanderers after Diego Costa’s work permit had initially been rejected.

His whirlwind summer however almost saw him wearing the blue and white quarters of Rovers after discussions with Barton.

“I was speaking to Andy and he was saying he might have a Premier League move,” the 40-year-old revealed.

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“It was like the seventh of September, he’s my mate, so I said to him, ‘what are you doing? What are you going to do, sit in the house?’

He said, ‘look, I’ve had a bit of interest from abroad, and I’m not sure if I’m going to do that. I’ve had Premier League interest’. I was like, ‘alright, no problem, hopefully it comes off for you.”

The two played for Newcastle together between 2007-11 before Carroll was sold to Liverpool for a then British record of £30 million.

In a mainly injury blighted career, Carroll returned to Tyneside in 2019 however was released at the end of the 2020/21 season, spending the first half of last season at Reading, then the second half under former Magpies manager Steve Bruce at West Brom.

Clubs are still able to sign free agents after the transfer window closes and the nine-time England international would have been a marque signing for the a team in the third tier.

“I saw Diego Costa signing, so it must have been that,” Barton said about Carroll’s offer. He never told me that but I’m presuming it’s that. he told me, ‘If I miss that then there’s a few Championship clubs interested in me’.

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“And you never know whether they’re just saying that because their agent’s said that or there actually is.

“So I am like, okay, that is interesting and then as it transpires he has gone to Reading. But I had gone, ‘If none are them are there and you fancy playing we’ll have you’.

Barton has not hidden that he is looking into the free agents market to improve his squad, particularly on the wing where his side are lacking options.

Aaron Collins has regularly started on the left-hand side after being moved from his centre forward role to accommodate John Marquis and Ryan Loft.

Harry Anderson is the other recognised winger, whilst Harvey Saunders and Sylvester Jasper lay in waiting. Anderson injured his toe in the defeat to Ipswich Town and has also been deployed as a wing-back this season.

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Rovers are still missing a creative spark that they had with Elliot Anderson and Luke Thomas last season. This may be something Barton will be able address in the coming days should be be successful in his latest pursuit.

Barton had received a phone call on Wednesday evening which has put the early wheels in motion of a possible move however any deal is being kept under wraps as terms are discussed and hopefully thrashed out.

“I’d closed that down in my own mind. But then at about 7 o’clock last night I got a phone call, ‘do you know such and such?’ and they gave me a bit of information that I didn’t know and it definitely made my ears pick up,” Barton said.

“And I went, ‘okay, that could work for us’. I’m not going to tell you who it is because it might not happen but I’ve got a phone call to make just to sound someone out and say, ‘I’ve heard this, does this sit with your worldview?’

“It’s someone who’s on the free market. What happens is lads out of contract in September, you become more appealing after.’

As for the identity of any potential new arrivals. Joe Dodoo washeavily linked with a move to Bristol earlier this week, however it is understand a move will not be pursuing the services of the 27-year-old.

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Anthony Pilkington and Scott Sinclair are also options on the wing, with the latter coming through the Rovers’ academy and making two first team appearances before being sold to Chelsea.