Burnley manager Sean Dyche is willing to offer his former midfielder Joey Barton a lifeline with the Clarets – should he want it.
The 34-year-old has been a free agent since the mutual termination of his contract with Scottish Premiership side Rangers, which had ended tumultuously in the wake of training fall-outs and betting infringements.
Barton played a crucial role in helping Burnley earn promotion back to the Premier League as SkyBet Championship title winners, but declined to extend his Turf Moor stay in favour of a move north of the border.
However, the midfielder struggled to recapture the stunning form he enjoyed in East Lancashire, and made only five league appearances for the Ibrox outfit – the last of which, a 5-1 defeat to fierce Glasgow rivals Celtic, proving to be the nadir of his brief spell, which came to an end earlier this month.
‘If Joey requires our support here, he’d get that.’
And Dyche explained how ‘There’s lots of players in my past I’ve helped out,’ and that ‘if he [Barton] needed a base to get fit, among many other players I’ve helped out, I’d listen.’
The Clarets boss also remarked how, on previous occasions, he and his staff ‘have helped out young players, old players, with phone calls to their other clubs,’ and added ‘if Joey requires our support here, he’d get that.’
Dyche and Barton enjoyed a good working relationship, with the latter a much more composed, restrained character than under different management regimes – so much so that he was named in the Championship’s Team of the Year with an impressive discipline record.
But Barton’s former manager was also quick to realise that his options were open, adding ‘that’s if he requires it [the club’s help]. If he doesn’t, he’ll move forward where he needs to move forward to.’
Speaking on Thursday ahead of his side’s trip to West Bromwich Albion on Monday evening, Dyche was also quizzed about a possible permanent return for Barton, but refused to be drawn on the subject, stating ‘Beyond the help, that would be it. The rest is for the future, not for now. If there’s any guarantee, that’s for the future.’