Sean Dyche has confirmed that Joey Barton is training with Burnley after having his Rangers contract terminated to end an unhappy spell in Scotland.
Barton’s Rangers stay turned sour when the one-time capped England international clashed in training with team-mate Andy Halliday in the wake of September’s 5-1 Old Firm defeat to bitter rivals Celtic.
He was initially exiled for three weeks as punishment, but that absence was increased in October when the Scottish Football Association charged him for breaching betting rules.
Barton was ultimately found guilty of that indiscretion and banned for one match, but he may never face that suspension after departing Rangers and he could be in line for a return to Burnley, whom he helped to Premier League promotion last season.
“He’s not with the first team,” Dyche clarified to reporters. “He’s doing background fitness work with the sports science team. That’s an ongoing thing until things change in the future.
“He’s had an indifferent time with being away from the club and different things going on in Scotland.
“So it’s about getting him fit and sharp. That’s good for him – who knows about us? We’ll take that [whether to approach him about signing] on when I see fit.”
There is certainly no chance of Barton being involved against his former side Manchester City on Saturday, a match that will see Dyche go head-to-head with a coach whom he has huge respect for.
“I think he [Pep Guardiola] is fantastic,” Dyche said. “I have absolute respect for these people and the things that they’ve achieved in the game. He’s certainly the top end of the market.
“He has changed their sharpness, both out of possession and in possession and I think he’s brought that in as a key factor among lots of other things, including changing the shape and the tactics regularly.
“It’s easier said than done to press these teams. You have to press at appropriate times and it’s a case of how the game pans out.”