Joey Barton reveals Bristol Rovers stance on free agents as £18.5m ex-QPR striker emerges
Bristol Rovers boss Joey Barton hasn’t ruled out the possibility of using the free agent market to sign a new striker
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Rovers frustratingly missed out on the signature of Jonson Clarke-Harris on deadline day - and he was their number one target in what would have been their 13th signing of the summer. In the midst of their pursuit of Clarke-Harris, they allowed Ryan Loft to go to Port Vale for an undisclosed fee, leaving them with one less striker.
Goals have been an issue for the Gas in the league, and whilst the summer transfer window is now shut, there is still the opportunity to sign free agents. Rovers don’t have a scheduled fixture at the weekend, and it will now allow Barton time to decide whether he dips his toes into the free agents market.
A name that could be of interest to Barton is his former teammate Andre Gray, who has recently left Greek club Aris Saloniki.
The former Premier League striker scored 33 goals in 78 games for Barton’s former club Burnley, and also played for clubs such as Brentford and QPR whilst once being part of a reported £18.5m to Watford.
Several Championship clubs have been suggested, and whilst he is a different mould to Clarke-Harris, he could be a good option to have considering his pedigree in English football.
“I’ve not really thought about it,” said Barton when asked if he’d considered the free agent market.
“I didn’t know Andre was a free agent. I’ve seen him doing the rounds but from what I was told he was moving somewhere. I would expect him to move somewhere.
“I think there are a few big names out of contract. I haven’t really thought about it if I’m honest because I thought we were going to sign Jonson Clarke-Harris.
“We had a game tonight, but now I’ve got a bit of time to sit and think about it but after tonight we showed a different way of playing.”
Goals certianly wasn’t a problem in Rovers’ most recent match as they comfortably defeated League One strugglers Cheltenham Town 4-1 in the EFL Trophy at the Memorial Stadium.
With a relatively large squad and players coming back from injuries, it gives Barton a few decisions to make regarding personel and whether an addition from the free agent market would be a suitable option for his side or not.
Barton said: “It’s a new group, a new team and it’s going to take a little bit of time, it’s exciting when you see stuff like that tonight.
“My teams tend to take a bit of time to learn what we’re asking them to do. Once the lads get it, they feel it works for them, usually as a team you don’t look back from that.”
“It was lovely sitting watching some of the football we played tonight. The Gasheads who came out to support us will no doubt have enjoyed that.”