Bristol Rovers boss Joey Barton on the ‘flagship’ teenager who is attracting interest from Wales national team

Bristol Rovers manager Joey Barton sung the praises of defener Luca Hoole, tipping him to make an impact with the Welsh national team
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Bristol Rovers boss Joey Barton has said that ‘flagship’ player Luca Hoole has provided the source of motivation for academy youngsters at the club.

Right-back Hoole, who has been at the club since the age of 11, has emerged as a regular first-team player over the last few months, taking each opportunity that has come towards him.

The 19-year-old was part of the youthful defence that kept a clean sheet against Mansfield Town on the weekend, in what was his 12th league appearance of the season.

“Hooley’s been the real young player that has taken the opportunity out of the academy,” Barton said.

“He’s 19, he’s got a huge future ahead of him, everything he wants out of the game he can get, if he plays well for Bristol Rovers and he keeps improving on a day-to-day basis.

“He was superb from the opening gambit in pre-season. He had a real maturity about him, he did everything right, he was fit and he got his opportunity in the first-team and he hasn’t looked back.

“He’s a flagship player for look if you join before his teenage years, he’s the guy who has taken advantage of everything here and has progressed to a first-team player.

“We’ve got to tie down our young talent. We want to build a young hungry side here that can not only get promoted to League Two but can build and push on and so something like Luton Town have done, they have set the route map.”

With any form comes recognition and for Luca, a call-up to the Wales under-21 squad, the age grade team just below the senior national team could be in the offing.

Their coach Paul Bodin was an attendee at the Memorial Stadium on Saturday afternoon, though there were other Welsh players on show that he could have been watching over.

Hoole though did himself no harm in trying to persuade the Wales boss to give him a call-up by keeping a clean sheet against one of League Two’s most in-form sides whilst also being one of the star performers.

Despite the prospect of international football though, Joey Barton is keen for that wait to continue as inclusion may affect his availability for club matches, as League Two games are played during the international break.

Barton said: “I don’t want any international players in my group because they go away then when we’ve got games.

“It’s different if you are in the Premier League. I know it would be great for him and I know he’s a proud Welshman and he’d be desperate for it but that’ll come to him with good time if he keeps doing well for us.”

“It’s inevitable that the Welsh FA will be aware of him because they’ll have fully scoped out any future international players they’ve got. They will be well aware of him. I don’t know who is in that group and who is ahead of him but he’s progressing nicely. If he keeps doing well for us at club level, eventually international recognition will fall his way.

“For us we want our best players available for us at all times and Luca certainly in recent weeks has come to the fore and shown what a good player he is and he belies his age in many regards due to his maturity, confidence and communication.

“I’m really pleased with him, it’s why I’ve tied him down to a new deal and we want to kick on and hopefully we’ll be doing another new deal with him.”