Middlesbrough man’s loan verdict that bodes well for Bristol Rovers and Joey Barton

Josh Coburn has spent the 2022/23 season to Bristol Rovers and he’s been thankful ahead of his return to Middlesbrough.
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Josh Coburn says he has reaped the rewards of his loan spell at Bristol Rovers this season.

Coburn joined on a season-long loan from Middlesbrough and has helped the Gas secure their place in League One for another season.

The 20-year-old has scored nine goals in 31 league matches this season but he has not scored since the 2-1 win against Cambridge United on January 7. He was nursing a knee injury and in recent weeks John Marquis was preferred to him.

Despite his dry patch in front of goal, Joey Barton has deemed the loan spell a success and is happy with his contribution. Before the New Year, there was talk of a recall but Coburn remained at the Memorial Stadium and has had a good learning experience in the third tier of English football.

In an interview with The Northern Echo, he said: “I definitely think I’ve benefited from staying down and playing a lot more games. It moulds you into more of a complete player and more of a man because you have to fend for yourself.

"I think it’s gone really well. I’ve played a lot of games, that’s the main thing, and I’ve scored a few goals," he says.

"It’s dried up a little bit but I’m still playing games, so that’s the main thing. I’m still getting that experience and I’ve definitely taken a lot away from that.”

Coburn’s loan boss Barton has tipped the forward to go on and play for England. He is yet to play at age-grade level for the Three Lions and time is still on his side to one day play on the international stage.

"He’s been really good with me,” said Coburn about Barton. He’s managed everything. I had a bit of a knee niggle a few weeks ago and he managed me really well through that.

‘He’s given me so much confidence in my game and I feel like my game has come on massively since I’ve been here. Confidence is a massive thing and obviously when I’ve gone on and scored a lot of goals, it’s helped massively.

"I think he’s really good at that kind of thing, giving players confidence and knowing how to get the best out of them."

As for Coburn’s long-term future, his parent club Middlesbrough are in the midst of an automatic promotion battle after a change in manager. Michael Carrick was not at the helm when Coburn departed the Riverside Stadium but has been keeping close tabs on his progress.

Should Boro earn promotion to the Premier League, it could open up the possibility of another loan move. They are all but guaranteed a play-off spot with former Arsenal striker Chuba Akpom leading the charge.

Middlesbrough could do with Coburn returning because Cameron Archer and Rodrigo Muniz will return to Aston Villa and Fulham at the end of the current season. It leaves them with Akpom and Marcus Forss as their forward options with Matt Hoppe also returning from a loan spell.

"I think I just have to come back and hit the ground running,” said Coburn.

“Obviously the manager hasn’t seen me in person. It’s massive for me to just show what I can do in pre-season and hopefully show him the best version of myself."