Derby County in pole position to snap up ex-England international

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Veteran midfielder Joey Barton is back on the market after his departure from Scottish giants Rangers – but he could return to action very soon, with Derby County leading the chase to sign the 34-year-old on a free transfer.

A player with huge Championship pedigree, the Huyton-born midfielder has won promotion from this division with three different clubs – Newcastle United, QPR, and most recently Burnley, last season.

Combative, skilful and boasting a wealth of experience, there’s no doubt Barton still possesses huge quality, even in his advancing years – a fact borne out by the veteran winning the Clarets’ Player of the Year award for 2015-16.

The only real question mark over the midfield maestro is his character, but Rams boss Steve McClaren boasts over a decade’s managerial experience, in addition to dealing with some of world football’s biggest names at Manchester United. With that in mind, he could be the man to bring the best out of Barton.

And evidence suggests the former England international could be the final piece in the jigsaw as Derby look to end their recent hurt and end their eight-year wait for Premier League football.

Indeed, Barton rose to the occasion during his time at Turf Moor, netting the winning goal away at Preston North End to all-but-secure promotion last season, while he also chipped in with a number of vital assists.

The Rams currently lie in 16th place, but look favourites to chalk up a third victory on the bounce when they face Rotherham United at the iPro Stadium – with 4/9 for McClaren’s men to enjoy a seventh successive victory over the Millers.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing

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Dave Burin

Dave graduated with an MA in English Literature at Durham University, and worked in marketing before joining the Ladbrokes News team. A Man United fan and avid groundhopper, he’s also an ardent follower of Rugby League. You can usually find him at a ground near you, clutching a big cup of tea.