Barton defender heads for Ricky Hills’ Tampa Bay Rowdies

Anton Blackwood in action
Anton Blackwood in action

Barton Rovers’ Antiguan and Barbadian international defender Anton Blackwood has departed Sharpenhoe Road to trial with Tampa Bay Rowdies in Florida.

The American side are coached by Luton Town legend Ricky Hill, who the former Spurs defender will be hoping to impress.

Boss Dan Kennoy said: “It’s a great opportunity for Anton and one that we wish him well with.

“It was a promise that I made him when convincing him to join us from St Albans City.

“I told him if he got back playing regularly then these types of opportunities would come along.

“Sometimes it takes a player to take one step back to move forward again and as a coach that’s what we want players to do to play at the highest level they possibly can.”

Grateful Blackwood said: “I’d like to thank everyone at the club, although its been a short stay everyone made we feel welcomed and got me enjoying my football again.

“If things don’t work out at Tampa I’ll definitely be back, if the gaffer wanted me back of course.”

Keeper Richard Wilmot, meanwhile, is recovering from an operation that saw him have a metal pin and four screws inserted into his hand.

He is expected to return before the end of the season and is in good spirits, and has no plans for retirement just yet.

Rovers have signed Crawley Green stopper Dean Bull on dual-registration forms as cover, although there is an agreement between the two clubs that he will only be available when Crawley do not have a game.

Kennoy added: “Richard’s injury now presents an opportunity for Kyle Forster to show us he can step up to this standard.

“Kyle is young and experienced but a very good keeper in his own right and pushed Richard very close to the number one shirt in pre-season.

“Bully will give us that extra cover if needed, especially as we have a lot of midweek games coming up due to the bad weather playing havoc the last few weeks.”

Barton’s home game with Daventry Town in Evo-Stik Southern League Division One Central on Saturday was postponed, this weekend they host Slough Town and on Tuesday entertain Woodford United.