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Derby County made favourites to sign controversial midfielder

Derby County have been made favourites to land former Burnley midfielder Joey Barton after his ban comes to an end, according to HITC Sport.

The 35-year-old was found to have breached FA betting rules last April, though his original 18-month ban was reduced.

The 2015/16 Clarets’ Player of the Year, who made his final appearance in last season’s 1-0 home defeat by Manchester United, will be eligible to return to football on June 1.

The former Manchester City, Newcastle United, QPR, Marseille and Rangers star has been training hard between media commitments and will consider his options when the time comes.

Bookmaker Bet Victor opened a market on Barton’s next club on Thursday, and placed Derby (8/1) at the top of the pile – ahead of Aston Villa, Cardiff City, Queens Park Rangers, Fleetwood Town and Notts County (all 10/1).

Barton last played for Burnley – who are 16/1 to resign him – in the Premier League, but was handed a 13-month global suspension for breaching betting rules last year.

But according to the bookies, it is the Football League which is most likely to await the midfielder, who turns 36 at the start of next season.

Derby, though, could struggle to accommodate another player in Barton’s position, with Tom Huddlestone, Joe Ledley, Bradley Johnson, George Thorne all under contract for at least another year, along with loaned out duo Craig Bryson and Jacob Butterfield.

Youngster Jamie Hanson has also been offered fresh terms at Pride Park.

But it has been rumoured he could be Fleetwood Town’s next head coach, but Joey Barton may not be ready to give up his hopes of playing just yet.

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