Should Burnley risk a reunion with controversial midfielder Joey Barton?

Joey Barton's recent departure from Rangers following a brief and unhappy spell in Glasgow raises the appealing prospect of a possible return to Turf Moor for the veteran midfielder.

A key player as Sean Dyche led the Clarets to the Championship title last season, Barton's time at Rangers was extremely disrupted, with an FA charge for betting on games and a training ground row ensuring his time in Scotland would be cut short.

Barton was evidently a bad fit for Rangers and he must be regretting the decision to turn down a new contract at Burnley at the end of last season, having won the club's Player of the Year award.

Dyche has opened the door for Barton to train at Turf Moor and his comments to the press on Thursday will inevitably spark speculation that a move for the 34-year-old may be on the cards.

"If he felt he needs a base to get fit or whatever, I'd listen," said Dyche. "Beyond that, that would be it. The rest is for the future. That's not for now."

Barton's rap sheet has grown in the months since he left Burnley, but his record was spotless at the club and it is clear there is a lot of respect between himself and Dyche, who memorably persuaded the former England international to join the club by cooking him an omelette.

It is hard to see how Barton would get in Dyche's strongest team now though, and that could be a major barrier to a possible reunion between the pair. His experience, leadership abilities and strong will to win would be a benefit to the squad as long as he was happy to provide cover for the man who replaced him, Steven Defour, who is struggling to make it through 90 minutes.

With the Clarets having switched from Dyche's usual 4-4-2 to 4-5-1, there is a lack of cover currently in midfield and, as a short-term fix, Barton would be a very appealing option, especially given his familiarity to the team and his extreme popularity with the fans, despite his decision to leave.

Currently, aside from the first-choice trio of Defour, Dean Marney and club-record signing Jeff Hendrick, there is not a single senior central midfielder on Burnley's books, which has led to players like central defender James Tarkowski featuring out of position and untested teenager Aiden O'Neill being thrown in at the deep end. Being able to bring on Barton when Defour's fitness fails him could make a huge difference in close matches, as the Belgium international is sorely missed when he is not playing.

The addition of Barton would enhance the strength in depth at the club and, purely looking at a possible deal in on-the-field terms, his return appears to be a no-brainer, especially as he is likely to have few Premier League offers and has already achieved all he can in the Championship.

But it is off the pitch where there are still some concerns over Barton -- who served jail time in 2008 over common assault and affray charges -- and a spell training at Turf Moor could be wise before a decision over whether to offer him a way back to the top-flight is made. Dyche would get a trusted lieutenant on the field, Barton would get one last shot at the big-time and Burnley would get a player who has the ability to influence matches at a high level -- a move makes a lot of sense.

Dyche is also likely to retain an interest in Dale Stephens, for whom Burnley made several offers during the last transfer window. However, with Brighton flying high in second place in the Championship and remaining determined to hold on to the 27-year-old midfielder, signing Barton could be a useful stopgap measure until Stephens becomes available on a free transfer when his current contract runs out at the end of the season.

The Clarets face a tricky test at West Brom on Monday in a match likely to offer the sort of physical battle in which Barton thrived last season. Having lost this match 4-0 in the Premier League two seasons ago, this is a perfect chance for Burnley to show how far they have come since then, having taken seven points from nine prior to the recent international break.

It is unlikely to be a classic to thrill neutrals, but Dyche's in-form Clarets will be confident they can extend their unbeaten run and collect another point on the road after a gritty performance in a battling 0-0 draw at Old Trafford got them off the mark away from home last month.