Joey Barton believes Glenn Whelan has all the qualities required to carve out a career as a top-level coach and tipped the Dubliner to one day manage the Republic of Ireland.
Whelan has joined Barton's back-room team at Bristol Rovers. Last season the 38-year-old was a big influence on the field as he helped the club to promotion to League One.
He was released at the end of the campaign but Barton has now brought Whelan back on board. He's actually registered as a player too, to be used in emergency situations.
"Glenn's influence both on and off the pitch last year was huge," Barton told The Bristol Post.
"His infectious nature means that when the opportunity arose to bring him back as a coach, it was a no-brainer. The experience and knowledge he can pass on to the lads will be a key factor for us moving forward.
"We’ve had a number of conversations back and forth over the summer because it’s not my place to tell people what to do and it's great for Whelo that he feels the next stage of his football journey isn’t what it was last year."
Whelan won 91 caps for Ireland, and Barton he has it in him to progress to the point where he could manage his country.
"I think he’s got all the attributes to be a fantastic coach. Being an Irishman, could you see him one day managing and coaching Ireland? Yeah, of course I could, with his experience of his playing career and his international career.
"We go back to the youth team days at Man City (where Barton and Whelan first met) and I like young, hungry staff. I believe massively in good coaches make good players and I think Whelo will be an outstanding coach.
"Not only because of the standing he’s got in the building from when he played, but last year he was mega close to the young players because we had those two dressing rooms (due to Covid-19 regulations) and Whelo was in the other dressing room."