Bristol Rovers made an attempt to re-sign former captain Tom Lockyer in the summer. Lockyer was a popular figure with the Gas during his first spell and departed in 2019 in search of Championship football.
The 27-year-old joined in 2011 as a 16-year-old after being released by Cardiff City, where he was deemed ‘too short’ to play in his preferred position as centre-back.
He went on to make 255 appearances for Rovers after making his debut in January 2013, playing in the National League, League Two and League One. In total, he would make 285 appearances for the club and captained them a dozen times.
A move to Charlton Athletic, then in the Championship happened in the summer of 2019 after Rovers’ were unable to mount a promotion push. He later moved to his current club Luton Town, where he has become a popular figure.
News has come to light however that Rovers made an audacious attempt to re-sign the Qatar-bound defender. Rovers were in need of a centre-back after Connor Taylor returned to Stoke City.
“The club actually came in for me at the start of the season,” he said in Rovers’ match-day programme.
“Not that I knew it - I wasn’t in the manager Nathan Jones’ thoughts and hadn’t started the season but then I made the team and haven’t looked back.”
Such a return would have been regarded as a major coup given he has played the last four seasons in the Championship. Lockyer had come off a campaign in the second tier where he had played 29 times and helped Luton to the play-offs.
Interest had came about after Lockyer had been an unused substitute for the first four league games of the Championship season. It had left him discussing with Nathan Jones whether his long-term future lied away from the club.
Rovers were in need of a centre-back with James Connolly their only option at the time. They did later add Lewis Gibson and Bobby Thomas from Everton and Burnley respectively, but explored a return for Lockyer.
A return didn’t take place, but Lockyer would watch his former club defeat MK Dons in October. Lockyer was present at the 1-0 win in which Antony Evans scored from the spot.
He earmarked Thomas as the player that impressed him most, and he later found out of summer interest from his former team. He said: “I only found out about Rovers’ interest when I went to watch them beat MK Dons.”
Lockyer’s decision to remain at Kenilworth Road has paid off as he has since started the last 12 matches and has kept seven clean sheets this season.
His form has not gone amiss and he received the call from Welsh national team manager Rob Page, that he would be included in his squad for the World Cup.
In a separate interview with BristolWorld, Lockyer said: “It was crazy, four games into the start of the season I haven’t had a touch for Luton.
"I’m thinking where am I going to get minutes from? I’m speaking to the manager ‘should I go out on loan? ‘No I need you there’.
"He puts me in against Swansea, I do well and keep a clean sheet.
"I’ve found my feet ever since. Football is a crazy place and I have found a lovely run of form. My form at the minute has been really good and you can see that in my performances."