Joey Barton tips new Bristol Rovers coach to manage Ireland - but doesn’t want him to play

“He obviously being an Irishman, could you see him one day managing or coaching Ireland, of course you could!” said the

<p>Glenn Whelan is back in the building at Bristol Rovers. (Image: Pete Norton) </p>

Glenn Whelan is back in the building at Bristol Rovers. (Image: Pete Norton)

Glenn Whelan has made a return to Bristol Rovers, this time in a new role as player-coach, as he begins his coaching journey.

Two months after his release with the door always open, Whelan has joined up with Joey Barton again in what is their third club together.

The 38-year-old is joining in what is his first coaching role as he begins to wind down a lengthy playing career.

He remains available as a player should Barton want to call upon him but there is a slight desire from the Gas boss to wind his career down.

Whelan’s last appearance was the 7-0 win over Scunthorpe United, securing promotion to League One in the most dramatic of circumstances.

Barton said: “I think there is still a part of him that wants to play on. If you are ever going to get off the parade. 7-0 at the Mem, you’ve had a great career, give someone else a go will you?

“Give someone else a go, there is no better way of going out!

As to how Whelan’s appointment came from Barton’s statement back in May when the released list came out.

Barton had stated on local radio that the door would remain open for some of the players to return and Whelan - the most high profile of departures - took him up on that word.

The former Stoke City midfielder remained in dialogue with Barton about his plans for the upcoming season and through that, a coaching role came up.

More money has been made available for Barton to add to his coaching team with Danny Ventre of Blackpool also joining.

Their appointments could coincide with the return of a development team, which hasn’t been seen since 2019.

Barton revealed: “We had a number of conversations back and forth over the summer because it’s not my place to tell people what to do.

“It’s great for us that Whelo has felt the next stage of Whelo’s football journey isn’t what it was last year.

I like young and hungry staff coaches. I believe massively that good players make good coaches. Whelo will be an exceptional coach, not only his standing in the building and the respect from when he played.

“He was mega close with the younger players, we had two dressing rooms (for an inter-squad friendly) and he was in the other dressing room.

“We have got more players now we are going to have to go back in and fill the academy and get the under-23’s structure right.

“It’s slightly different money as to what he was paid as a player as it always is when you come to the dark side and you start coaching. He’s been fortunate enough to make a few quid when he played.”

As Whelan takes his first steps into coaching, the sky seems to be the limit for him with Barton envisaging that one day he could take charge of the Republic of Ireland national team.

“I think he has all the attributes to be a fantastic coach,” he said.

“He obviously being an Irishman, could you see him one day managing or coaching Ireland, of course you could! With his experience with his playing career and his international career.”