Joey Barton sends strong warning to Bristol Rovers fan favourite James Belshaw

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Bristol Rovers’ Player of the Year last season was dropped from the 18-man squad

Joey Barton has revealed that he left James Belshaw out of the Bristol Rovers squad after he was disappointed with his training performance.

Belshaw was not named in the match-day squad, with Ellery Ballcombe starting his fourth game in a row and Anssi Jakkola was on the bench. He was named as a substitute against Lincoln, making a return from a rib injury, and his absence was not a reoccurrence or a setback from his injury.

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Balcombe, signed on loan from Brentford, was required to start for the first three games of his loan spell as part of the agreement. and tonight was the first time that Barton was not forced in to starting the Bees goalkeeper. The 23-year-old had conceded eight goals in his three matches, but against Ipswich, was a key reason for their first clean sheet since Port Vale.

“James was disappointed yesterday when we named the team,” said Barton in his post-match press conference after a goalless draw with Ipswich. “It then affected his training performance and his attitude at the level I would expect it to be.

“He’s been superb for us Belly, and he’s been a really good citizen and a great goalkeeper for us but nobody is bigger than our team and no body is bigger than the football club.

“We’ve got a lot of good players here, in terms of more than 11 good players. Sometimes people are going to be on the bench or not in the starting 11.”

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Players are made aware of the team a day before which helps them prepare for the next match. It allows the team to be more specific in their training, as they work on team shape and getting an understanding of one another.

Barton believes Belshaw would have been best suited in making the case to him after the conclusion of the match, rather than in the build-up. The Gas have four days until their next match, and the 40-year-old wanted Belshaw to support his goalkeeping rival.

Barton added: “You’ve got to park that frustration and emotion and support the man in the jersey. After the game has happened, chap on the managers door and ask the reasons. You can’t allow that to affect your training performance because you become an energy sapper and try to bring the group down.”

“Belly’s had the evening off and if his attitude and training performances don’t change, that will be the last anyone sees of him in the quarters jersey.”

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