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Rangers old boy Jason Holt is a Joey Barton fan, despite his training-ground meltdown

© SNSLivi new boy Jason Holt (right) with Joey Barton during their Rangers days
Livi new boy Jason Holt (right) with Joey Barton during their Rangers days

Jason Holt hopes he can help raise the standards at Livingston.

The 27-year-old has always been known for his hard-working approach to the game, but he admits that has been enhanced by an unlikely figure.

Joey Barton is one of those characters who divides opinion.

He was loved by supporters at some clubs, and a controversial figure at others.

Undoubtedly, his time at Rangers was a massive flop.

A training-ground bust-up in the wake of a 5-1 thrashing by Celtic saw the Englishman’s contract torn up after just eight games.

He did, however, get back in touch with the Ibrox club, and took Jason Holt on loan for the 2018-19 season after becoming boss of Fleetwood Town.

Holt said: “He was great with me. I really enjoyed my time at Fleetwood.

“He has lots of ideas about football, and wanted to learn every day as a new, young manager.

“In the season just past, they came close in the play-offs, which tells you how well he has done.

“I only have praise and good words about my time there.

“There is a perception around him. But when I worked with him every day at Rangers and then Fleetwood, I could see his ideas and passion for the game.

“He just wants to learn every day, and that comes across on the training pitch. It was really enjoyable.

“There are already high standards here at Livingston, but that’s something that is the norm for me.

“Being at Rangers and then Fleetwood with Joey, that was always demanded.”

© Bill Murray / SNS Group
New Livingston signing Jason Holt

Holt could make his Livi debut when Rangers visit the Tony Macaroni Arena today.

He signed a two-year deal with the West Lothian club last week.

And coming up against Steven Gerrard’s team won’t faze him.

Having not long left the club, he knows plenty of their players, and looks back fondly at his time in light blue.

He went on: “It was a really great experience. I loved my time there.

“It was five years in total, but really only three as part of the squad.

“I will probably look back on those as being the best three years of my career.

“It’s a special club, and I think everyone who leaves Rangers says you don’t get anything like it anywhere else. I think that’s true.

“The positives outweigh the negatives, definitely.

“Ibrox is a special place to play football. The crowds and the passion are fond memories for me.

“I spoke to Steven Gerrard when he first took over. He told me I wasn’t going to get the amount of football I would like.

“So I made the decision to go out and play at Fleetwood, and then St Johnstone.

“I’ve signed for two years here. That gives me some security and it’s a chance to play regular football.”

Having visited Livingston many times as an opposition player, Holt knows Rangers won’t be taking today’s game lightly.

He said: “Livingston have made it difficult for every team coming here over the last couple of years.

“We’re not going to change too much because the club has had success.

“There are also a lot of good technical players here. That’s something I noticed when I arrived.”

Manager Gary Holt is delighted at the contribution his new player has made – even before playing in a match.

He said: “From the first day he came in for training, it was: ‘Oh, Jason Holt’s here’.

“He has that respect. You come off the training pitch, thinking he’s one of the better players.

“Hopefully his influence can rub off on the boys. He has a calmness about him, and he’s prepared to dig people out in the right situations.

“I think, in the society we’re in, there are not enough leaders, not enough people to roll up their sleeves and dig your mate out.

“Even if you’re having a bad game, you’re still allowed to have a go at people in the right way to get the best out of them.”