Joey Barton opens up on futures of two of his Bristol Rovers players with their futures up in the air

One player is set for talks with Joey Barton whilst the other has been tipped to force his way into his plans

Bristol Rovers manager Joey Barton has opened up on the futures of both Junior Brown and loanee Sion Spence.

Both players have found it difficult to break into his team and their futures may be away from the Memorial Stadium.

Spence, who is on loan from Crystal Palace, was once tipped by former Wales captain Craig Bellamy as one of the talented players he has had.

The 21-year-old though hasn’t been able to force his way into the side both in a midfield that boasts experience or up front in the similar role to what Antony Evans was playing.

“There’s been a few discussions back and forth that are straight forward,” Barton said.

“If you’ve not been in the team, it’s not my job to get you in there. It’s your job to make sure I can’t leave you out.

“So unluckily for Sion we’ve got 11 good players here and there’s high competition for places in his position.”

Sion Spence has found himself on the fringes of the first-team this season. (Photo by Alex Burstow/Getty Images)

The Wales Under-21 international has featured nine times this season but most have come off the bench.

He did score the winning goals against Walsall in the league and Oxford United in the FA Cup, but hasn’t been able to maintain a consistent run of games.

No discussions have taken place with his parent club as of yet over a possible recall but their loan manager Mark Bright is a regular visitor to the Mem.

“Sion’s had a few cameos and scored goals to show what he can do but as of yet, when he’s been given a chance I don’t think he’s taken the shirt and really made it its own and that’ll be the challenge for him over the next period.

“If he does that superb and everyone will be happy, if he doesn’t then Crystal Palace may want to bring him back and send him elsewhere, I haven’t heard that as of yet but if that’s the case then that’s it.”

Meanwhile, experienced defender Brown has not featured for the club since October due to an injury.

The 32-year-old, signed by Barton on a free transfer after leaving Scunthorpe United was brought in to act as cover for the likes of Nick Anderon and Trevor Clarke.

With just six league appearances this season though in what has been an injury-hit spell at the club, his time could be coming to an end with his manager predicting a departure.

“He’s still not 100 percent,” Barton revealed. “We’re due to have a conversation today at some point about possibly moving on. I don’t think it’s going to work out for us and I’m not sure what options he’s got.

“For us, if you’re not playing then you’re not going to be here long. For me you’re playing or contributing or otherwise you’re on an exit path from the football club because we can’t have any passengers.

“It hasn’t quite worked out for Junior as of yet, I don’t think it will work out for him. Sometimes transfers and signings don’t work out.

“I took Junior for a bit of cover, he hasn’t hit the ground running. We’re going to have to get players who can hit the ground running and help out our football team.”

With ten days left of the January transfer window, the priority has turned to moving players off the books rather than any incomings.

Zain Walker and Zain Westbrooke have this week been let go to King’s Lynn and Stevenage respectively. Meanwhile goalkeeper Jed Ward has joined Swindon Supermarine on a one-month’s loan, linking up with Tom Mehew and Kieran Phillips.

Their departures as well as further exits such as young loan players and those who aren’t around the first-team could free up some resources for new signings.

“Unfortunately for them guys, they couldn’t force their way into the line up and credit to them. A lot of players want to sit around, pick their wages up and use the football club as a glorified health club.

“For us it’s an opportunity to recycle some wasted cash into players utilised by us between now and the end of the season.”

“Those two lads are clearly talented in different ways which is not at the required level that I want for this football club and what is going to take us to the places I want to get to.”