JACK Barthram is likely to be given one final chance to prove he deserves an extension to his contract at Swindon Town when Rotherham United visit the County Ground this weekend.
Barthram, who joined the club from Tottenham Hotspur on a one-year deal last June, sees his current terms with the Wiltshire club expire this summer, though Swindon do have an option to prolong his stay by a further 12 months.
The full-back has impressed with his darting, incisive runs from out wide in most of the 14 appearances he has made for the Robins in 2013/14 but has found it hard to break past Nathan Thompson and Nathan Byrne into a regular spot in manager Mark Cooper’s side.
Barthram has only started five times for Town but Cooper hinted in his pre-match press conference that the youngster might get another opportunity on Saturday, with Thompson suspended.
“It doesn’t worry me because we’ve had that all season. We’ve had people coming in and out and we’ve had to deal with that. The good thing, for me, is it gives an opportunity for us to see if they can step up to the plate,” he said.
“We’ve still got one or two players in the squad - Jack Barthram and people like that - who need games. It’s his first full season and there is a strong possibility that he will feature.”
With six victories in their last eight outings, Swindon’s players have given Cooper the end to the campaign that he craved - despite missing the likes of Nile Ranger, Alex Pritchard, Ryan Mason and Yaser Kasim for long periods.
“It’s been a very pleasing end to the season,” Cooper said. “The players have been brilliant, we’ve played some really good football and there have been some really entertaining games. The highlights - beating Brentford, Sheffield United, Preston, scoring in the dying minutes at Coventry - have made it a really entertaining end to the season.
“I’ve said all along that we wanted to finish well to give us that impetus going into next season.”
Saturday presents Town will the chance to give the County Ground crowd one last hurrah against a Rotherham side preparing for the League One play-offs.
No side has done the double over the Millers this term but, on the season’s final day, Cooper’s men have the opportunity to take the bragging rights following their comprehensive 4-0 victory at the New York Stadium in October.
“Away from home it was a very good day,” Cooper recounted. “We rode our luck for the first 10 minutes, we came under some pressure, they hit the bar or the post, maybe both, and after that, once we’d scored the first goal, we went on to record an emphatic victory. That was a really good day.”