Joey Barton reveals the reason why Alfie Kilgour had to leave Bristol Rovers

Alfie Kilgour had options to join League One clubs - but it was Bristol Rovers that made the decision for him
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Joey Barton said that Alfie Kilgour had to leave Bristol Rovers to better his career after his departure to Mansfield Town. The 24 year-old has left his boyhood club to join the Stags for an undisclosed fee, bringing to an end his 17-years of service.

Kilgour will be linking up with former Rovers captain and fellow academy graduate Ollie Clarke as he signs for the League Two side on an 18-month deal.

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The defender featured frequently for past managers, however fell out of favour with Barton, making eleven appearances last season, and eight so far this season. Rovers have been far from secure defensively this season, and find themself with the third worst defensive record in the league yet despite lots of switches in the back line, Kilgour has been unable to break into the squad.

Barton said: “He’s a fantastic lad, trains properly everyday, always working on his game, it’s just some of the things we like to see in defenders he just comes up a little bit short of for me,” said Barton.

“The ludicrous position of we’re all over the gaff defensively, and as I say it’s just not fair to keep him here. I know he cares about the quartered jersey, he’s a massive Bristolian and has been a great servant at the club but we’ve got to find that missing ingredient in our back line.

“As I say Alf isn’t it and we have to let him go and let him continue his pathway because he’s capable of playing, there was a lot of interest in him in League Two and League One.”

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After almost two decades at the club, Kilgour penned an emotional statement, thanking the fans and everybody associated with the football club. Breaking into the first team squad under Graham Coughlan, then continuing to get regular games under Ben Garner and Paul Tisdale, the hiring of Joey Barton seemed to be the beginning of the end for the defender, who seemed unable to fit into the manager’s plans.

“He’s been chomping at the bit to play, Alf. We’ve had trials and tribulations in the backline but we didnt feel like he was the antidote. If he’s not the antidote now, when is he ever going to be?”

“That happens in football sometimes, and you have to be men about it, have grown up conversations. If you’re not going to turn to them in times of crisis then certainly you can’t hold their careers back.”

Mansfield Town currently find themselves ninth in League Two, only outside the playoff places on goal difference and Kilgour will surely be looking to make it back to back promotions.

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Kilgour did receive interest from League One clubs, but given they would be selling directly to a rival, Rovers did not want to strengthen their team, without receiving a fee to compensate them for that. As a result, Kilgour has had to drop down a division, but is likely to play regularly.

He added: “We felt that it wouldn’t be right to let him go into League One without a significant fee, the teams that were interested in him didn’t want to do that. Thankfully for us the sides in League Two could give us the compensation we were looking for.”

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