‘Great player’ - Joey Barton believes key Bristol Rovers man is getting back to his best form

Joey Barton likes what he has seen from Antony Evans as of late. (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)Joey Barton likes what he has seen from Antony Evans as of late. (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)
Joey Barton likes what he has seen from Antony Evans as of late. (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images) | Getty Images
Bristol Rovers worked hard to tie down one of their key players in the summer - and now he’s working to repay the faith.

Joey Barton believes Antony Evans is close to capturing his top form again for Bristol Rovers, after two back-to-back displays that he was impressed by.

The midfielder starred in Bristol Rovers’ promotion from League Two last season, scoring ten and assisting 12 in 34 games and was rewarded with a new three-year deal.

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Evans has had an on and off season so far this time out, scoring four and assisting twice in his 30 games, however his manager believes he is getting back to his best.

The 24-year-old starred in his side’s draw against Ipswich Town, not only looking the most likely to create a goal but also battling against a strong Ipswich midfield, regularly winning the ball back for his side.

He said: "Evo has kept turning up and kept scrapping, even in the midst of maybe not playing his best football this year. He’s still been out on the training pitch every day putting the work in and now he is starting to show signs of the great player we know Antony to be.”

"Tuesday night, he had to show a different side by digging in and being a lot more disciplined, but I’ve definitely seen some of the signs of Evo capturing his top form again and, certainly in recent weeks, his work rate for the team has been first class.”

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Barton’s side had a tough challenge against Kieron McKenna’s third placed side, especially off the back of four league losses on the bounce. Last Saturday’s fixture against Lincoln showed signs of improvement however, and if it was not for Ryan Loft’s first half sending off the game may have been different.

"I thought he was really good last Saturday (against Lincoln City) as well and I’m seeing signs from Evo of being Evo, going past people and taking shots, being more aggressive.”

Evans has been a mainstay in the Gas squad since he joined the club on a free transfer, and after a previous league one spells with Crewe Alexandra and Blackpool, the former Everton man continues to improve.

“You forget that he’s a young player, he played a lot of games last year and has gone up a level. He’s working on a tough strengthening programme to make him able to impose himself a bit more.”

“Sometimes you don’t just get better, you get the odd player that does that, but most are a little bit up and a little bit down. The key is that the dips aren’t too bad.”

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