Joey Barton on the verge of offering Harrogate Town's James Belshaw a deal at Bristol Rovers

Joey Barton has revealed that he is on the verge of offering Harrogate Town goalkeeper James Belshaw a deal at Bristol Rovers.
Harrogate Town goalkeeper James Belshaw. Pictures: Getty ImagesHarrogate Town goalkeeper James Belshaw. Pictures: Getty Images
Harrogate Town goalkeeper James Belshaw. Pictures: Getty Images

The 30-year-old stopper has spent the last couple of weeks on trial with the Gas having been told he is free to leave Wetherby Road.

A two-time promotion winner and Simon Weaver s regular first-choice between the sticks during his four years at the club, Belshaw was stripped of the number one jersey following Mark Oxley's arrival earlier this summer.

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But he certainly seems to have made a positive impression on Rovers boss Barton, who praised the player following his performance in Saturday's 1-1 pre-season draw with Plymouth Arglye and hinted that a deal is in the offing.

Bristol Rovers chief Joey Barton.Bristol Rovers chief Joey Barton.
Bristol Rovers chief Joey Barton.

"I thought he did well," Barton told Bristol Live.

"We’ve obviously got a position to fill with losing about eight goalkeepers last year. We’ve only got Anssi [Jaakkola] and Jed [Ward] registered in the senior group, so we do need to fill that space.

"He did well today and I’ve got to give a decision to him today. I’ll go speak with him now and give him a decision.

"But I thought he was really good. He furthered his case after being really good in the last couple of weeks around the training ground.

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"Might have a bit of positive news for him there, but it will come down to price point."

Belshaw has made 184 appearances since joining Harrogate from Tamworth four years ago, keeping 58 clean-sheets and chipping in with no fewer than five assists.

On his likely departure, boss Weaver said: "We started chatting to Belly about the goalkeeping situation and what was going to happen this summer all the way back in May.

“We explained to him that we were looking for a goalkeeper with more EFL experience to come in and be our number one.

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“There was no fall-out, there's no animosity and we didn’t say that the door was closed for James. But, he said that he didn’t want to be a number two because he’s got used to and enjoys playing regularly, and I understand where he’s coming from."

Weaver went on to confirm on July 8 that Belshaw had left Town's pre-season training camp at Carden Park in Cheshireto join an unnamed club on trial.

“Belly has had his agent talking to a few clubs and he’s going to be with another side so they can have a closer look at him with a view to a move there," he said.

“Nothing is signed yet, but that is where we are. He wanted to take the opportunity to go there and fair play to him.”