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League Two

Notts County ready to move for former Premier League midfielder Joey Barton

The 35-year-old could be set to link up with ex-Newcastle United teammate Kevin Nolan.

Jake Jackman

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Joey Barton
Photo: Getty Images

Notts County are heading in the right direction under Kevin Nolan and are one of the teams competing for promotion at the top of League Two.

That would represent a great season for the Magpies and it appears that their manager has the ambition to push them on further over the coming years.

The former Premier League player is keen to use his connections to bring in some quality and experience, with Joey Barton being one of the names linked.

The two men played together at Newcastle United and were part of the team that won promotion back to the Premier League in 2010.

In a recent interview with BBC Radio Nottingham, Nolan said the following when asked about Barton:

“Me and Joey are good friends. He is a top player, a top lad and I really get on well with him. We will always be in touch so let’s see what happens.”

“Joey is probably going to want to play at a higher level. And if that doesn’t come to fruition then I am sure there will be a conversation in the summer.

Although Nolan admits that he is unlikely to land his former team-mate, it shows his value to Notts County in the transfer market.

His presence at the club makes it possible to target quality players that have played at the top of the English game.

(Photo by Nigel Roddis/Getty Images)

Since he arrived at Meadow Lane, he has used his Newcastle connections to sign Shola Ameobi and the striker has been a good player for the club

However, it would be an even bigger coup to land Barton, who was last seen playing in the Premier League for Burnley last season.

A lengthy ban from football due to gambling meant that the midfielder hasn’t been able to play this season, but at the age of 35, he still has something to offer the game.

Before his ban, he was a key player for Burnley and played 14 times in the Premier League after re-joining the club in January 2017.

It was a huge shame for Barton that he received a ban, as he was beginning to thrive at the highest level again.

The time away from football will have an effect on him, but he will be determined to finish his eventful career on a high.

It would be somewhat interesting if Barton did sign for Notts County this summer, as he came close to joining their local rivals a few years ago.

Reports in the Mirror, in 2015, suggested the midfielder wanted to join Nottingham Forest after he left Queens Park Rangers, but a move didn’t come to fruition.

Now, he could be offered the opportunity to play in the city, albeit for the side lower down the Football League.

At the time of writing, Notts County are in the play-off positions in League Two and they have a good chance of winning promotion this season.

Their chances of signing Barton will increase if they do go up a division, but his relationship with Nolan means they will be in the races regardless of promotion.

It could be that Barton is motivated by a project rather than money or exposure and the opportunity to join Notts County could be an appealing one.

He would get the opportunity to work with one of his good friends in the game and his ability would allow him to stand out at that level.

Supporters shouldn’t be getting excited about the rumoured signing yet, as it is only speculation at this point, but it is encouraging that Nolan has declared his interest on the record.

Barton may be a controversial figure, but he has won promotion on three occasions during his career and his experience would be invaluable to an ambitious club like Notts County.

If they manage to get this done, it would be one of the eye-catching transfers of the summer.

Jake is a journalist based in the South East. He is a Newcastle United fan and has a keen interest in Dutch football. Jake can be found on Twitter here - @jakejackmann.

League One

Are Portsmouth making Tottenham Hotspur regret Luke McGee decision?

The former Tottenham Hotspur goalie has been in fine form for Portsmouth recently.

Mathew Coull

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In the summer many Tottenham Hotspur fans were left surprised by the club’s decision to let goalkeeper Luke McGee leave the club. The young stopper had just had an excellent loan spell at Peterborough United and many felt he was the perfect option to play third-man to Hugo Lloris and Michel Vorm in North London.

Instead, he was allowed to join Portsmouth in the summer for an undisclosed fee, joining on a three-year deal.

Judging by his recent form Portsmouth will be very pleased Tottenham decided to move McGee on. The 22-year-old has been in excellent form recently, as Portsmouth forge a late charge for the League One play-off places.

Atletico Madrid’s Fernando Torres (R) watches as Tottenham Hotspur goalkeeper Luke McGee (L) makes a save during the International Champions Cup football match between English Premier League team Tottenham Hotspur and Spanish club Atletico Madrid in Melbourne on July 29, 2016. / AFP / Paul Crock / –IMAGE RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE – STRICTLY NO COMMERCIAL USE– (Photo credit should read PAUL CROCK/AFP/Getty Images)

His form is even more impressive when considering Pompey manager Kenny Jackett made a decision to replace him in January. Portsmouth re-signed former keeper Stephen Henderson on loan from Nottingham Forest and the Irishman went straight into the starting XI ahead of McGee. But the injury-plagued Forest stopper suffered a thigh strain that ruled him out for the rest of the campaign. McGee came in and, in the next game v MK Dons, put in a man-of-the-match performance.

Since then Portsmouth fans have been very pleased with the performance of their goalkeeper, who has played 39 times for the club in League One this season.

PORTSMOUTH, ENGLAND – DECEMBER 02: Luke McGee of Portsmouth in action during the Checkatrade Trophy Round 2 match between Portsmouth and Northampton Town at Fratton Park on December 2, 2017 in Portsmouth, England. (Photo by Pete Norton/Getty Images)

Tottenham meanwhile look like they could lose Michel Vorm in the summer and with only Paulo Gazzaniga in support, the presence of McGee could have been a brilliant bonus for Tottenham in the future.

The young stopper is proving at Portsmouth that hard work and patience can pay off. With a little bit of luck thrown in, he has been showcasing his brilliant ability over the past two months.

Now he will have his eyes on moving one step closer to joining Tottenham in the Premier League, by getting Portsmouth into the League One play-off picture.

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Championship

Jorge Grant labelled best in League Two by weekend opponent

The Nottingham Forest loanee has been in fine form most of this season, despite recent struggles.

Mathew Coull

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This Good Friday Wycombe Wanderers take on Notts County in a League Two promotion battle. The clash at Meadow Lane will see the third and fourth teams in the league clash with just seven games left to play in the regular season.

For one Wycombe player, it will also put him up against a player he feels is the best in the division – and is owned by Nottingham Forest.

Speaking to the Bucks Free Press this week Wycombe left-back Joe Jacobson was commending the efforts of Magpies on-loan midfielder Jorge Grant. The Welshman stated:

“He’s a very good player and I think he’s got the recognition he deserves this season. He’s probably been the best player in the league so I’ve got to make sure I’m on top of my game.”

xxxx during the Emirates FA Cup Fourth Round match between Tottenham Hotspur and Wycombe Wanderers at White Hart Lane on January 28, 2017 in London, England.

High praise indeed for a player that Nottingham Forest must still harbour great hopes for.

The 23-year-old has been immense at times this season for Notts County. He has found the back of the net 18 times this term, following on from his six months on loan at the club last season when he scored six.

In total, in the season-and-a-half Grant has been at Notts County he has scored 24 goals in 64 games and become a feared midfielder in League Two.

But does he have a future at Nottingham Forest?

Before being loaned out to Notts County the midfielder did in fact sign a new contract at Forest in the summer. He agreed terms on a three-year deal at the club, of which he will have two years remaining this summer.

Surely Forest therefore plan to finally give Grant an extended run of football in the first-team.

A few months ago there would have been little question about that being the case. Grant was firing in the first half of the season, leaving Forest fans wondering why he was not at the City Ground this season.

LONDON, ENGLAND – SEPTEMBER 24: Jorge Grant of Nottingham Forest celebrates scoring the first goal during the Capital One Cup third round match between Tottenham Hotspur and Nottingham Forest at White Hart Lane on September 24, 2014 in London, England. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

That has not been the case since the turn of the year. Grant has simply not managed to keep up such a good run in a busy schedule which also included an FA Cup run. Grant has scored just twice in 2018 and has occasionally found himself dropped to the bench by manager Kevin Nolan.

Despite his recent dip in form Grant is clearly held in high regard in League Two. If he was not a Forest player already, and the chance came up to sign him from their local rivals, you can bet Aitor Karanka would give a deal the go-ahead.

The fact is he is a Forest player and the signing of a new deal in the summer indicated a long-term plan to remain that way.

Grant deserves a chance to finally prove himself at Forest, after years of missing out, despite his recent blip in form.

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FA Cup

Tottenham 2-0 Newport County: Erik Lamela’s confident performance among three talking points

Jake Jackman brings us three talking points from Wembley as Tottenham progressed in the FA Cup with victory over Newport County.

Jake Jackman

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Tottenham
Photo: Reuters

Tottenham qualified for the fifth round of the FA Cup with a routine home victory over League Two Newport County.

The Welsh side can feel proud that they made their more illustrious opposition work hard for a spot in the next round.

After a superb performance a couple of weeks ago, Michael Flynn’s side started brightly at Wembley and caused Spurs problems once again.

However, the class soon shone through and the hosts could have scored more on another evening.

Here are three talking points from the match…

Tottenham have a great chance of winning the FA Cup

Although Mauricio Pochettino’s team selection showed that this competition isn’t a priority at present, they are now entering the fifth round and that should focus attentions.

Tottenham have been drawn to face Rochdale away from home in the next round, which will be a tricky tie, but one they should progress from.

If they do manage to avoid a shock against a League One side, they will be in a great position to lift the trophy.

As Pochettino has yet to win a major trophy as a manager, he should be taking this competition seriously as a triumph would be a landmark in both his and the team’s progression.

Anybody that has followed Premier League football over the last three years will rave about the quality of the squad that the Argentine has put together, but a trophy would take it to them to the next level.

Despite the FA Cup losing its magic, it remains a well-respected competition and it would mark a successful season if Tottenham were to win it in May.

Newport County emerge with respect

It was always going to be a difficult tie for Newport County, but these two matches will be looked back on with fondness as they more than played their part.

During the first fixture, they had several great chances and led for a long period of the game.

Although they conceded a late equaliser, they managed to hold a team that had previously beaten Real Madrid this season and that is a remarkable achievement.

Few people expected a similar performance on Wednesday, but they competed well in the early stages and tried to attack Tottenham at Wembley.

Once the first goal went in, there was only one winner.

However, Newport continued to work hard and they didn’t allow the score to get embarrassing.

They will have feared a humiliation at the hands of Tottenham, especially after seeing fellow League Two side Notts County get thrashed away to Swansea City, but it was far from that.

The Welsh club exit the competition with pride and they can now focus on challenging for a play-off place in the league.

It will be interesting to see how they and Notts County react from these defeats, especially as one was far more embarrassing than the other.

Erik Lamela took a major step in his recovery

The Argentine attacker has been out for a long time with a serious injury and Tottenham are being careful in the way they are managing him back to full fitness.

He has shown some nice flashes in the Premier League since his return, but this was the first time that he looked back to his former self.

Lamela was running the games at times and looked full of confidence, trying to make things happen for his side.

It would have been easy for him to go through the motions against lower league opposition, but he appeared motivated and that is an encouraging sign for the future.

Lamela scored the second goal to put the game beyond doubt.

It was nice movement from the Argentine winger to find space in the box before coolly slotting past Joe Day.

This was his first goal since returning from injury and it will give him confidence to take into a crucial run of matches for Tottenham.

His critics will point to the quality of the opposition, but he can only play what is in front of him.

Also, he was the only Spurs’ player to find the back of the net on Wednesday, which does make him look good.

At the age of 25, it is time for the Argentine to push on and fulfil the potential everybody knew he had when he arrived in England.

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