Anssi Jaakkola set for Sutton United start as Joey Barton provides injury update on James Belshaw

Finland international Anssi Jakkola is back between the sticks for Bristol Rovers. (Photo by Pete Norton/Getty Images)Finland international Anssi Jakkola is back between the sticks for Bristol Rovers. (Photo by Pete Norton/Getty Images)
Finland international Anssi Jakkola is back between the sticks for Bristol Rovers. (Photo by Pete Norton/Getty Images) | Getty Images
Finnish shot-stopper set for his third outing of the season after injury to rival James Belshaw

Anssi Jaakkola is to start between the sticks for Bristol Rovers this weekend after a recent injury to James Belshaw.

Jed Ward was today recalled by the Gas from his loan at Swindon Supermarine with his side giving the reason for an injury within the squad.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

It later transpired from that news that Belshaw was the unfortunate party to get injured and will at least miss this weekend’s game away at Sutton United.

The 31-year-old has become an influential figure since his move from Harrogate and he has gone to make 2 appearances across all competitions, keeping six clean sheets.

Belshaw went down in stoppage time in the box towards the end of the Walsall match last Saturday and required treatment from the medical staff.

The positive news though is that from the initial thoughts of Belshaw’s injury, it doesn’t seem to be as worse as feared and he could be back in the not too distant future.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“Belly’s had a bit of good news in what we thought it could have been or the possibilities,” revealed Barton.

“We had a few scares after we had the scans and an either further look by the specialist but thankfully the prognosis seems to be good. This weekend’s game is going to be too soon for Belly, but luckily for us, we’ve got a Finnish international in Anssi Jaakkola who has been waiting.”

James Belshaw will at least miss Saturday’s match but could return soon. (Photo by Alex Burstow/Getty Images)James Belshaw will at least miss Saturday’s match but could return soon. (Photo by Alex Burstow/Getty Images)
James Belshaw will at least miss Saturday’s match but could return soon. (Photo by Alex Burstow/Getty Images) | Getty Images

Jaakkola spent the first part of the campaign on the sidelines having suffered an achilles injury that limited him to just two appearances.

The 34-year-old played against both Mansfield Town and Stevenage back in August but then faced a long-lay off with Ward deputising in his place.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The Finnish shot-stopper though has a vast amount of experience and has represented his country on three occasions and has been the first-choice keeper at the Memorial Stadium for a number of years.

He has been tipped by his manager to take the opportunity presented to him after conducting himself well in training.

Barton said: “He’s been chomping at the bit and waiting for an opportunity such as Belly’s good form, it’s been tough for him.

“Football has a strange way of doing but an opportunity has presented itself. We’re lucky that we’ve got two first-class keepers and we’ve got a good young prospect in Jed but he’ll have to come back and help the first team.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“He’d rather it be rather form but in football that is not always the way that it goes. He’s been fit for a period, it’s probably been good to have that spell where he’s just been training.

“And now a first-team opportunity presents itself. It’s tough to find keepers of Belly’s quality but we’re fortunate that we have got two.”

Brett Pitman’s departure from the Memorial Stadium was also an early talking point that the media were able to question Barton on today.

The 33-year-old is set to join National League outfit Eastleigh on loan until the end of the season though should an injury crisis arise, there is a recall option.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Pitman, who is out of contract at the end of the season, is leaving after making 16 appearances in League Two this season, scoring four goals, although half of his league outings have been as a substitute.

Commenting more on the matter, Barton said: “I believe Brett is very close to or has joined Eastleigh on loan.

“It works for all parties. It’s a lot closer to Brett’s home, it gets him out playing and that’s how you want to finish your career.”

Comment Guidelines

National World encourages reader discussion on our stories. User feedback, insights and back-and-forth exchanges add a rich layer of context to reporting. Please review our Community Guidelines before commenting.