Bristol Rovers manager Joey Barton has admitted he would be interested in signing Everton defender Lewis Gibson on a permanent basis.
The centre-back put to pen to paper on a new contract at Goodison Park in the summer, but his future is uncertain.
He’s currently into his fourth loan spell of his career at Rovers - having spent time at Fleetwood Town, Reading and Sheffield Wednesday.
Gibson had well-documented injury problems at Wednesday last season, while he has been limited to four appearances for the League One club this season.
However, it’s the second time in his career that the ex-Newcastle defender has played under with Barton, having worked together with Fleetwood.
And speaking to our sister title Bristol World, Barton has admitted he has ‘one eye’ on keeping Gibson beyond this season.
The Rovers boss said: “For us, even taking Lewis Gibson, it’s one eye on the future. He’s someone we have taken out on loan. We think ‘okay, if we can do a really good job with him’ and he doesn’t manage to make the grade at Everton.
“That we can, I’ve worked with him at Fleetwood that he can have joy with us again and commit to a longer-term position with us
“I think he’s a really good player, the problem with that is we are trying him out a bit with his injury record.
“He’s new to Bristol and trying us out. It’s having that patience in the midst of building a new-team and a new group together. Short-term pain for medium and long-term pain is my take.”