How former Fleetwood Town boss Joey Barton is approaching Bristol Rovers' final game of the season against Blackpool

Bristol Rovers boss Joey Barton wants to get today's game against Blackpool out of the way as soon as possible to bring an end to a nightmare campaign.

Sunday, 9th May 2021, 8:00 am

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There’s nothing riding on this afternoon's clash against Barton’s already relegated side after the Seasiders booked their place in the play-offs on Tuesday night with a 2-0 win against Doncaster Rovers.

The Gas, meanwhile, sit bottom of the League One table and their relegation to the fourth tier was confirmed following their 1-0 defeat at Portsmouth on April 24.

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Bristol Rovers were two points ahead of the relegation zone when former Fleetwood boss Barton took over in February, but they are now 10 points behind Wigan Athletic in 20th.

During his time in charge at the Memorial Ground, Barton has won just three games in 17, losing 12.

"For me, it's a case of just getting this season gone," Barton said ahead of today's game.

"It's tough at the moment because you've got nothing to play for and thoughts naturally drift towards next season and moving the group out, clearing the place out and starting to build a proper football team out of the ashes of this team.

Bristol Rovers boss Joey Barton

"The difficult is, we've had two dead rubbers to fulfil since the Pompey game, but to keep the integrity of the competition you've obviously got to go out and pick the best team you can to try to get a result and a performance.

"All the while, you're assessing your options in terms of which players to take into the next campaign.

"I think we're about 90 per cent there in terms of which players we'll keep and which players we'll move on.

"We've had 45 games to assess the current personnel and I can't see - unless it's some of the younger players - many people changing my mind because, in terms of the senior players, we're well aware of what they can do and what they can offer.

"The difficulty is, we have to get some of them into the physical shape we think we can get them into by doing a proper pre-season - then I think we'll start to find out what we've got and what the players are capable of.

"The lads are down in terms of their mentality and from a physical standpoint we've got bodies going down left, right and centre because of the negligence of their pre-season, that's the only way I can describe it.

"If you're not fit for the start of the season, then after 45 games in a condensed, Covid ravaged year, then you're not going to be fit for the end of it.

"That's why in the last two weeks we've said 'lads, we'll see you Thursday' or 'lads, we'll see you Friday' to save their energy tanks."

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