SWINDON Town have been tracking young Brighton & Hove Albion striker George Barker ahead of a possible move for the 22-year-old.

The Advertiser understands Barker, who has yet to score a professional goal, is a target for the Robins in January as chairman Lee Power and manager Mark Cooper search for a frontman to fill the void left by the return of Nicky Ajose to Peterborough and Nile Ranger’s imminent departure.

Barker came through Brighton’s youth development programme before signing his first professional deal with the Sussex club in 2010.

After loan stints at Lewes and Barnet, where he made his Football League debut in December 2012, Barker finally made his Brighton bow at Barnsley in March.

He made three appearances in total last term and came off the bench during the Seagulls’ 3-1 home defeat to Nottingham Forest in the Championship earlier this term before being shipped out on loan to Newport.

Barker made just two appearances during his time at Rodney Parade, however, both in goalless draws against Cheltenham Town and Oxford United, before returning to the Amex Stadium.

Swindon assistant coach Luke Williams, who was in charge of Brighton’s academy up until the end of June last year, is known to be a big fan of Barker and the Advertiser understands it is Williams who has encouraged the powers that be at the County Ground to take a look at the hitman.

Barker was prominent for Brighton in under 21 and development football prior to his switch to the pro ranks but at five foot, eight inches he does not appear to be the target man Cooper has been longing for.

In May, Barker was one of four footballers found not guilty of sexually assaulting a woman in a Brighton hotel.

Alongside Lewis Dunk, Anton Rodgers and Steve Cook, Barker was cleared after the woman who made the claims against the quartet admitted lying to police and her employers.

Barker said outside the Old Bailey following the verdict: “Since the day of my arrest in January 2011, I have always vigorously protested my innocence.

“Having to live with these allegations over the last two years has been enormously difficult for me, for my family and for my friends.

“Being able to rely on them at all times has been hugely reassuring during what has seemed at times like a nightmare.”

Meanwhile, it has transpired that Bournemouth may have rejected Town’s recent approach for Wes Thomas on behalf of the player.

Swindon submitted a bid of around £100,000 for the striker 10 days ago but saw it rebuffed by the Cherries, who the Advertiser understands would have been willing to accept the offer on face value only for Thomas to decline the move.