Joey Barton makes shocking admission over in-demand Bristol Rovers loan star from Newcastle United

Elliot Anderson was not at the top of the transfer shortlist when he joined Bristol Rovers

<p>Elliot Anderson has dazzled for Bristol Rovers but his move almost didn’t happen. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)</p>

Elliot Anderson has dazzled for Bristol Rovers but his move almost didn’t happen. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

Bristol Rovers manager Joey Barton has revealed that Newcastle United loanee Elliot Anderson was not his first choice target when he signed him.

Anderson arrived on Deadline Day on a loan deal that would see him play the next six-months at the Memorial Stadium.

At the time of his arrival, the 19-year-old was an untried youngster who had only two senior substitute appearances for the Magpies.

He had played and captained the under-23’s and was a key member of their squad, but in his first loan spell away from St James Park, came as an unknown quantity.

Barton had been in the market for another midfielder and there were links with Cheltenham Town’s Liam Sercombe, as well as a reunion with Callum Camps of Fleetwood Town.

Eventually, neither target joined and Rovers ended up with Anderson, as well as getting Jon Nolan on a free transfer.

Joey Barton had looked at other options before deciding on signing Anderson from Newcastle. (Photo by Pete Norton/Getty Images)

“To find Elliot Anderson in the midst of when we were chasing down a transfer target that was priority number one for the whole window and it didn’t work out,” revealed Barton.

“To have Plan B, C and D, is a credit to our recruitment staff and the work they do.

“As a manager you get focused on target one and let’s take that off the board and you start making plans for that. They say hang on if that doesn’t happen, we need to be protected and take B and believe it or not, Elliot was Plan B. Sometimes you need a bit of luck because Plan A definitely wasn’t as good as Plan B.”

Anderson has exceeded expectations since making his debut against Sutton United back in February.

He has gone on to start 14 consecutive matches in League Two and has earned three goals and three assists, with his most recent goal contribution being a key pass to Sam Finley’s equaliser on Saturday.

His form has not gone amiss and it has been recently reported by the Daily Mirror that Nottingham Forest, Preston North End and Queens Park Rangers are all interested in acquiring his services next season.

Given the added interest of clubs in a higher division as well as Howe being disappointed at the loan being at the level he had to drop down to, the likelihood of him returning next season is slim.

There is some hope however that should they gain promotion then they wouldhave an outside chance.

“I think at the level above we might have a sniff,” admitted Barton.

“It’s the horrible thing for us as a coach. We could have a really good team in League One or if we’re in League Two, we could lose them.

“But we’ll find them, we know where they all are, luckily for me I’ve got an unbelievable team that can find good players, that is a group effort.”

Anderson has been earning rave reviews and  former Newcastle scout Graham Carr likened him to Peter Beardsley and Paul Gascoinge.

He also believed that he should be fast tracked into the first-team, as one of the better players from Newcastle’s academy structure.

But whilst the player is riding a wave of success at the moment, he is not the finished article and his current club manager has given him some advice on where to improve.

Barton added: “I think he’s superb. I think our fans have taken to him because he gets you off your seat. You would be really pleased for him to have the ball for ninety minutes because he’s got such quality.

“The challenge for him is like when he gets in for a one-on-one and he chops everyone, you need them goals.

“Them goals are going to make Eddie Howe sit up and take notice because unfortunately Eddie won’t watch our game.

“He’ll just see whether Elliot has assisted or scored, I don’t think he’ll be watching a League Two game.”