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Barton explains transfer decision on Whelan

Bristol Rovers manager Joey Barton has explained his thinking behind signing former Aston Villa midfielder Glenn Whelan.

The 37-year-old was confirmed as a Rovers player on Saturday, signing a deal until the end of the season with the League Two club.

The former Villa man has been training with the club for several weeks and has done enough to earn himself a contract.

Whelan spent two seasons at Villa between 2017 and 2019, being part of the squad that earned promotion back to the Premier League.

He has since had spells with Hearts and Fleetwood Town before becoming a free agent at the end of the season.

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“As a manager when I look back over my notes from the first season at Fleetwood, when you’re changing the culture of the group, it’s difficult to do it with young lads, I think you need men to help you do that,” Barton said about the signing (via BristolLive ).

“Paul Coutts, Mark Hughes, Glen Whelan, Leon Clarke and the lads we already had here your Alex Rodman’s and Anssi Jaakkola’s they just give you that ‘been there, done it, got the t-shirt’.”

Whelan has made a total of 629 career appearances to date, so certainly adds a lot of experience to the squad, something Barton says will be invaluable.

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“You don’t want too many of them because you’ll have no legs and you won’t have enough energy which is what football can sometimes be decided by. But you need the brain and the nous in there and I think you need to have that balance in your group,” he added.

“We already have had the highs and lows of a campaign and you need a few solid senior citizens to be in there to say ‘okay, we’ve been here before, settle down, let’s get this group into this space’.

“They police your dressing room for you, we’ve got good conduits off the field side where you can reverberate messages through the dressing room.

“Also, you know that if any of the younger players are getting a little bit carried away there’s nothing better than an older and wiser head to give them a clip round the ear and keep them in line.”

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