Joey Barton has sent a message to former Bristol Rovers striker Jonson Clarke-Harris, as he believes the Gas have two of the best strikers in League One. The Gas host the Posh at the Memorial Stadium this coming Saturday which will see Clarke-Harris make his first return since supporters were permitted.
Clarke-Harris was a player at the Mem for one-and-a-half-seasons, scoring 27 goals in 49 appearances. The 28-year-old left for a return to London Road after rejecting a contract extension and was sold to Saturday’s opponents. He went on to be a success at Peterborough, scoring 31 goals, finishing as the top scorer in the 2020/21 season.
In Peterborough’s two matches with Rovers, which were played behind-closed-doors, he failed to get on the scoresheet. Clarke-Harris has had no problem finding the net this season, with the striker netting 13 goals in 20 matches this season.
He’s leading the top scorer charts in League One, but behind him is Aaron Collins, who was named the Player of the Month. Collins has two goals fewer but has 17 goal contributions this campaign, the joint-most in the league.
"You’ve got Jonno with his history with the club," Barton said. "He’s got a great goal scoring record and you’ve got the new kid on the block in Aaron Collins.
"This calendar year, it’s only him and Jonno who are knocking goals in like that. The other side of that is the assists side of it and penalties, Azza doesn’t take penalties. When you’ve haven’t got the ball can you set a live press?”
Clarke-Harris was signed by manager Graham Coughlin in January 2019, joining from Rotherham United. Joey Barton, manager of Fleetwood Town at the time, revealed that he made a move for the forward but was trumped by Rovers.
The forward has had nine clubs in total, including two spells at Peterborough, as well as two permanent and one loan stays at Coventry City. Barton admitted that he would want the league’s leading striker in his side but is happy that he has Collins on his side.
"I think Clarke-Harris is a hell of a striker and I’d like to have him in our team," he said. "I nearly got him to Fleetwood before Bristol, I think I would have got more out of him than people have got. I know power to weight ratio, he could be even better than what he is.
"When they look at Aaron Collins, he’s the real deal, he’s a proper athlete. He’s a 12k a game man, he’s no body fat and he is getting better."
The battle of Clarke-Harris v Collins will be interesting one, as both players will be expected to play a part in getting their respective side to victory. Josh Coburn however has been entered in to the discussion, with Barton singing the praises of the on-loan Middlesbrough striker.
Coburn has four goals in nine games across all competitions, since arriving on Deadline Day and recovering from an injury. The 19-year-old has began to forge a partnership with Collins, with the Welshman supplying him with an assist for his goal against Fleetwood Town last week.
The praise has even been extended as to whether he could be one of the top strikers in the division. Clarke-Harris leads the way in terms of goals, but the partnership that Collins and Coburn have began, has the 40-year-old believing that he’s ‘as good as anyone’.
He said: "Saturday I think we’ve got the two best strikers in League One in the stadium and I’m not sure necessarily any of them play for Peterborough.
"I think Coburn is as good as anyone you will see. At 19, he’s going to have a big future in the game. Clarke-Harris is the top scorer, you’ve got the old established man and you’ve got Azza the new kid on the block and young whippersnapper in Coburn who I think as good a goal scorer. He’s 19 and he’s playing in League One playing against men.