Portsmouth loanee returns to West Brom - could Bristol Rovers be interested?

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Bristol Rovers’ League One rivals’ loss could be the the Gas gain

Championship club ​​West Brom have recalled goalkeeper Josh Griffiths from his loan spell at Portsmouth. Griffiths was meant to be at Fratton Park for the entirety of the 2022/23 campaign, but his time in Hampshire has been cut short, and now the question is where he will end up next?

It is unsure yet whether the Baggies want to keep Griffiths at The Hawthorns or send him out to a different club, as it was they who ended the loan deal after activating a clause. The 21-year-old played 28 times for Pompey, keeping seven clean sheets, as well as recently playing against Tottenham Hotspur.

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Should Griffiths be available again then he is someone that Joey Barton could perhaps consider signing for Bristol Rovers. In the aftermath of the 4-3 defeat to Exeter City just before the New Year, Barton admitted that he may be in the market for a new goalkeeper.

Belshaw - signed on a recommendation of former goalkeeper coach Tony Warner - has been Barton’s number one for most of his tenure but that could come under threat. The former Harrogate Town goalkeeper however is part of a Gas defence that has shipped the third most goals in League One with only Burton Albion and Forest Green conceding more.

“Everyone’s position is under threat,” said Barton before the January transfer window opened.

“Certainly, when you don’t do your job. Belly has saved us in lots of moments but, for me, you’ve got to be a lot more effective. If you’re conceding goals, you’ve got to organise the lads in front of you.

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“If there’s a puncture, you’ve got to take a tyre off. At the minute, Belly keeps goal - we’ve conceded 41 goals and if that doesn’t start to improve then naturally his position, like everybody else’s in the defence and midfield, will be under duress.”

Griffiths fits the bill as a young player that Barton could develop like he has done with Connor Taylor and Elliot Anderson. The England Under-18 international has 55 games under his belt in the third tier, which is more than Belshaw, despite there being a 10-year age gap between the two.

The six foot five shot-stopper also won the League Two title with Cheltenham Town in the 2020/21 campaign. He is thought to be highly regarded by West Brom, and has a contract with the Midlands club until the summer of 2025.

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