Republic of Ireland midfielder Glenn Whelan has joined Joey Barton’s League One Fleetwood Town until the end of the season.
The 36-year-old Dubliner has been a free agent since he was released by Hearts this month.
Whelan described his treatment by the club as “amateurish” and said he was “thrown under a bus” by new manager Daniel Stendel, who publicly questioned the veteran’s contribution and leadership.
Whelan has been Mick McCarthy’s first-choice holding midfielder throughout the Euro 2020 qualification campaign but he will be competing against James McCarthy who is impressing for Crystal Palace in the Premiership for a starting place when the Boys in Green travel to Slovakia for their Euro 2020 play-off in March.
Whelan told the club’s website that international ambitions motivated the move: “If I’m not playing, and I’m not playing well, then I’ve no chance internationally.
“Even though [the play-off] is in March, it’s about staying fit and healthy and please God getting a few results to keep myself in contention.”
Barton said of Whelan’s signature: “When the opportunity arose to bring someone of Glenn’s experience in to our squad, we moved quickly to get the deal done.
“Glenn is hungry to play and we’re sure that he will bring the qualities that everyone knows he is capable of into our group.
“We lost some experience in this window with Peter Clarke leaving to join Tranmere, so to bring someone in like Glenn who has been the captain of his country, is really important for our squad.
“This is an exciting signing for the club, and we look forward to seeing him in action.”