‘Years’ - Joey Barton on possibility of new signing Scott Sinclair extending his short-term deal
Joey Barton was speaking after Rovers’ win over Swindon Town
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Sinclair made an emotional transfer on Tuesday morning as he returned to the Gas 17 years after departing for Chelsea as a teenager. The 33-year-old was a free agent after leaving Preston North End and a deal was agreed upon to bring him back to The Quarters.
Sinclair has initially joined the club on a deal that will see him play his football at the Memorial Stadium until January. Rovers play during the World Cup in what is a busy period and could play up to 13 matches before the New Year.
“I just thought he was too much quality for us not to take him,” Barton said. We’ve been in a position because at the back end of the window where what we budgeted for we had a little bit of surplus because we missed some targets.
“For us, it was a case of being able to add real experience with over 500 appearances. He has real quality and goals and if you are an old romantic it allows him to start and finish at Rovers. He’s been a product of the academy, gone to Chelsea, and made a fantastic career for himself in the British game.
“As luck would have it, he’s out of contract, he’s in the right shape in terms of his body, and it’s a position we feel his experience could really add to our group. It works for all parties, it’s obviously short-term, to begin with but let’s hope this is an Indian summer for Scott and he can have a number of good years here.
“I think his mum and dad are over in Bath so he has a lot of friends and family in the area. Maybe the older Gasheads can see him fulfill his potential in the quartered shirt as a teenager when he was in the academy.”
Sinclair’s arrival is sure to inspire Rovers’ attacking players who can benefit from learning from a player of his experience. Players like Harry Anderson, Sylvester Jasper, Harvey Saunders and Trevor Clarke, are all players who play in a similar position to Sinclair. As well as benefiting from the learning experience of playing alongside a player that has featured over 100 times in the Premier League, he will also be providing more competition for a starting berth and place in the match-day squad.
One player who might benefit the most is Aaron Collins who has already excelled this season for the club. The 25-year-old has eight goals and six assists which has begun talk of him being involved in Wales’ World Cup squad.
Football Association of Wales bosses have to submit a 55-man squad list later this week to signal their intention as to what players could be involved in Qatar with the competition just a month away.
Collins, who has only represented Wales at Under-19 level once is an outside contender for a call-up. Major tournament squads sometimes through up surprises and so contingency planning has been thought of when signing Sinclair.
“I’ve brought him in case Az (Aaron Collins) gets in this World Cup squad. We’ve got to have a contingency plan in place. Azza gets his visa for Qatar, for me, that is part of the thinking of it.
He’s also someone that the lads can learn from because he’s been an incredible player and we’ve seen that with Whelo who has moved into the coaching room. The experienced players speaking to the younger players like Luca Hoole and Connolly and Lewis Gibson, I think having that wealth of experience.
He still has a lot of ability, by the way, we’re not just signing because he’s an experienced player, he’s really fit and his finishing is fantastic. We think when an opportunity presents itself when the chips stack quite high, you’d want it to fall to a player of Scott’s calibre and experience. We’re delighted to have him in our group and looking forward to this period with him.
Tuesday night’s EFL Trophy match with Swindon Town came too soon for Sinclair to make his second homecoming but he has an opportunity to play on the weekend. Table-topping Plymouth Argyle are the opponents at the Mem and as fate would have it are one of the clubs that Sinclair played for.
Sinclair has been on his own personal training regime to keep himself in good condition after not signing for a club for the first three months of the campaign. He trained with Premier League outfit Chelsea last month and later trained with Rovers, which has gone a long way to him signing a new deal.
He trained with two of his new teammates on Tuesday afternoon after not being a part of the 18-man squad against Swindon and impressed the manager. Barton has not played down his prospects of making a cameo appearance this coming weekend.
“I saw him running this afternoon with Harvey Saunders, Glenn Whelan, and James Connolly, he’s in fantastic shape,” Barton said.
“He’s a player that needed a lot of time to get into his groove. Would he be able to start against the table-toppers on Saturday? Probably not. If he had to do half an hour or 25 minutes, he would certainly have his lungs open. With his game IQ and his nouse, I don’t think he would have a problem. We have to get him through it safely.
“Tonight would have been ideal for him but it just came a little too soon as things got finalised. He’s someone we have taken on a short term with both of us having a look at each other. Who knows? He could well be two, three, or four years here. If he reaches his level of performance, he is a fantastic player. I think he’s a really good addition to the group.”