Arrival of Everton defender has solved multiple problems for Bristol Rovers

There could be a slight movement in the Bristol Rovers back line with Hoole reverting back to full-back

<p>Lewis Gibson’s arrival has solved many problems. (Photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images)</p>

Lewis Gibson’s arrival has solved many problems. (Photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images)

Luca Hoole could return to the role of right-back in the Bristol Rovers defence after an enforced reshuffle, owing to injury and new signings.

Wales Under-21 defender Hoole started the campaign at centre-back alongside the more natural James Connolly with some mixed succes.

The Gas conceded twice against Forest Green Rovers under the youthful back line’s watch but then kept a clean sheet against the ten men of Burton Albion.

Hoole had been tried at centre-back for a majority of the pre-season but injuries along with new arrivals means that the 20-year-old is likely to move back to full-back.

He played there in the 1-0 defeat to League Two basement side Crawley Town on Tuesday with fellow academy graduate Alfie Kilgour earning a rare start.

“I do think it is his long-term position at centre-back,” first-team manager Joey Barton stated ahead of Saturday’s lunch-time kick-off with Oxford United.

“For him to get a look in and also he played full-back on Tuesday night, Hooley is a player who picks up information very quickly.

“It is why he has progressed the way that he has. He will get better and better, he is key and his game is growing all the time. He’s got a lot of filling out to do but I’m really pleased with him.

“He’s got a bright shining light from last pre-season and he’s continued that into his performances in League Two last year.

“This year, we will use him slightly differently, we already have as he hasn’t played right-back as much.”

James Gibbons’ injury which could keep him sidelined for 12-weeks opens up his former role whilst the signing of Everton defender Lewis Gibson means that Hoole can focus on building up his experience in League One.

Gibson is predominantly a centre-back and worked with Barton during their time together at Fleetwood Town, with the boss wanting to reunite with him before Reading came in.

He played a handful of games and was thrust into the first-team, fighting for Barton in the League One play-offs. The addition of a new centre-half is the first steps into Barton being able to achieve what he wants in his defence.

And the arrival of the Toffee’s defender means that there is slightly more depth to the thin area of defence whilst also adding numbers when players recover.

‘With Gibbo getting injured that allows Hooley to right-back,” admitted Barton.

“I started James Connolly on to his stronger side which would be a a right-sided centre-back.

“It does give us some variation of tactical output. I’m delighted to have him on board.”

Asked by the BristolPost’s Sam Frost on the importance of a left-footed centre-back, Barton responded: “For me, it’s huge. It allows the ball to be a lot quicker on the outside.

"The best left-sided centre-back in the world is right-footed in Virgil van Dijk, so it’s not exclusively about having that left-footer in there, but I just feel you get that balance.

"The opportunity is to be back threes. I think Lewis has done really well, certainly at Fleetwood, when we played a lot more 3-4-3. He’s well versed in playing the left side of the back three.”