Suspended Barton on Wednesday’s radar over loan move

SHEFFIELD Wednesday have admitted to monitoring Joey Barton’s situation amid suggestions Queens Park Rangers are keen to loan the controversial midfielder to a Championship club.

The 29-year-old was last month hit with a 12-game ban following his dismissal against Manchester City on the final day of the 2011-12 season.

Barton, stripped of the Rangers captaincy and fined six weeks’ wages after his part in the ugly scenes at Eastlands that included the midfielder elbowing Carlos Tevez and then kicking out at Sergio Aguero, has not been included in the Londoners’ forthcoming pre-season tour of Asia.

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It is understood that Premier League side QPR want to loan the midfielder to the Championship, where due to the heavy schedule of fixtures in the early weeks of the season his ban will be served quicker.

That would, in turn, mean Barton having more time to prove both his fitness and form ahead of the January transfer window, when it is expected that the Londoners will look to secure him a permanent move.

Blackburn Rovers and Nottingham Forest are believed to be at the head of the queue wanting to take Barton on loan before the season gets under way but a weekend report suggested that Owls manager Dave Jones was also interested in signing one of the game’s more controversial figures.

A Wednesday spokesman last night confirmed to the Yorkshire Post that the club are monitoring the situation involving Barton, whose reputation is not expected to deter manager Jones if the player does, as expected, become available.

At a Championship club able to safely negotiate the first two rounds of the Capital One Cup, Barton’s 12-game ban would elapse in early October. In the Premier League, however, he would not be free to play until well into the following month.

One midfielder who has agreed a move to Hillsborough is Slovenia international Nejc Pecnik.

The 26-year-old, a versatile winger capable of playing on either flank, has signed a two-year contract following his departure from Portuguese side CD Nacional.

Owls manager Dave Jones said: “This is a good signing for us. Nejc came over for a trial and we liked what we saw.

“He is a versatile lad, he has experience and is an international player. I am looking forward to working with him.”

Pecnik, who has also had a spell on loan with Czech side Sparta Prague, added: “The deal was done really quickly after a trial at the club and it was an easy agreement to make the deal.

“My goal is to show myself in a good way for Sheffield Wednesday and build on the experience I already have.”

Meanwhile, popular Academy manager Sean McAuley has left Hillsborough to join American MLS side Portland Timbers.

The 40-year-old joined the Owls in 2005 and, after taking control of the academy a year later, successfully steered a raft of youth team players into the senior squad.

In addition, McAuley twice managed the Wednesday first team on a caretaker basis.