Joey Barton makes wish for Bristol Rovers as plans begin early for next season

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Bristol Rovers have nine games left in the 2022/23 season - but Joey Barton wishes the end was sooner.

Joey Barton admits he wishes the League One season to end now as Bristol Rovers’ season continued to falter after a 2-0 defeat to Portsmouth.

The Gas loss to Pompey in controversial circumstances with Colby Bishop netting twice for the visitors. Barton, owner Wael-al-Qadi and several supporters believed that Bishop was offside when Ryan Tunnicliffe played him the ball for his first goal. Bishop then scored from 12-yards in the second-half, but there were question marks as to how Paddy Lane fell from Callum Macdonald’s shirt pull.

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It was two of four refereeing decisions that the 40-year-old bemoaned, as to make matters worse Jarell Quansah was red carded for a foul on Joe Morrell. Quansah could be out for up to three matches, depending on how the referee deemed the offence, whilst there was also a penalty appeal that went amiss after Josh Coburn’s shirt was tugged.

Rovers have been unable to put together a consistent run of form since the turn of the New Year, and after looking like an outside bet for the play-offs, those hopes have since been dashed as a result of poor form and injuries. Plans could already start for next season as those out-of-contract try and earn a new deal with the club.

“I wish we were at the end of the season,” admitted Barton. “We can’t really get promoted and it doesn’t look like we’re going to get in the relegation battle. I’ve got to the point now where you want to set the targets for next year.”

The Gas sit 15th in the League One standings with nine games to go, and are thankful that form earlier on in the season has not brought them into a relegation battle. Ten points separate Rovers and 21st-placed Accrington Stanley who occupy the last relegation spot and it looks like Barton’s side will be a third division side next season.

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Rovers have a 20-day break in between their defeat to Portsmouth and their next match, which is scheduled for Good Friday (April 7) against Charlton Athletic at the Mem. Next week’s match with Shrewsbury Town has been postponed as a result of three international call-ups, whilst the game against Plymouth Argyle is off because of their involvement in the EFL Trophy final.

He added: “There is nothing worse than having absolutely nothing to play for with nine games to go. From our perspective, the sooner we can get back into that winning groove at home is going to be key. We need to rip our pitch up and it’s not great for football.”

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