Bristol Rovers boost as injured pair in contention to return against Port Vale

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The Gas are close to a clean bill of health with only one long-term absentee

Bristol Rovers look set to welcome back injured pair Harry Anderson and Paul Coutts, with the two in line to return against Port Vale. Anderson and Coutts have been sidelined

Coutts has been absent after sustaining an ankle injury on the training ground over a month ago in the build-up to their match against Plymouth Argyle in October. The Scotsman had been seen in a protective boot and on crutches, and was sent home to Aberdeen to recover with his family.

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He has been seen most recently in the dugout, playing a supporting role to Joey Barton and his backroom staff. The former Derby County midfielder could soon swap the training tracksuit for the blue and white quarters, with a return on Saturday in the pipeline.

Assistant manager Andy Mangan said: “Paul has been back in training this week for us which has given the lads an unbelievable lift because he’s such a big character, a leader and a real big part of everything that we do,” Mangan said.

“He’s back in with the lads, was the best player in training today so we’re probably going to start him up front after today’s performance, he looked like he could score a few goals.”

Attacker Anderson has also been out for an extended period of time, after coming off against Sheffield Wednesday with a foot injury. He replaced Ryan Loft in the first-half at Hillsborough, but had the misfortune of being substituted as a substitute.

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However it looks as though the 25-year-old’s time on the sidelines is over. Rovers are being careful however in managing his return and so a place amongst the substitute’s bench could be the best bet for the former Lincoln City winger.

Mangan said: “He’s definitely in contention, H unfortunately was out for about five weeks so we’ve got to be careful.

“It would be silly, and very naive of us to rush him back, we’ve got a really good squad and we’ll go by that everyday and manage his situation.

“There’s a couple of lads who we’re managing at the moment but Harry will definitely be available to play on Saturday, maybe not to start but certainly to be involved.”

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The Gas have certainly missed Anderson’s versatility, with the ‘midfielder’ often being deployed as an attacking full-back in losing situations, allowing his side to bring on another attacker as they try to get back into the game.

“Harry is a great player for us, he’s played numerous positions for us, every single position other than centre back I think.

“He’s someone that we’re going to be delighted to have back, not only for the team but for the lads, he’s really well thought of within the group so hopefully he’ll be back soon.”

Ryan Loft is also a player who has been missing recently, and didn’t feature in last week’s draw with Bolton Wanderers. The striker went down with an illness bug that ripped through the Rovers camp, however to the relief of the club, it looks to be on its way out.

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“Lofty’s in the building,” said Mangan. Hopefully he’ll be available, everyone’s back in training now and there’s nothing new to report really.

“The winter months, I think you have to expect a bit of illness, I believe a bug was going around. You know people have kids, bringing stuff home from nursery so you just can’t do anything about that.”

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