Bristol Rovers boss Joey Barton makes decision on next captain after hint

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Bristol Rovers have named their captain for the 2023/24 season - and it’s who you’d expect.

Sam Finley has expressed his pride after being appointed club captain of Bristol Rovers.

Finley - entering his third campaign with the Gas - has taken over the mantle from Paul Coutts who departed the club earlier this summer. The 31-year-old had taken on the armband in Coutts’ absence, but now it has officially been confirmed.

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He has worked under Joey Barton and Andy Mangan at two clubs and has a vast amount of experience in the EFL, and has made 83 appearances to date for the club, the joint most of his career. Finley has got seven goals and 10 assists during his time at the Memorial Stadium and has been tipped to start alongside Grant Ward in the centre of the park.

“I’m proud,” he said in an interview with the club.

“The gaffer mentioned it before when we had the huddle before training. I had an inkling from wearing the armband since Paul Coutts left towards the end of last season and since he’s left this pre-season the games that I’ve played. I’m immensely proud.”

"Asked if he believes wearing the armband changes anything, he responded: "It doesn’t really. I’d like to think I’m respected within the changing room regardless of whether I had the armband on or not.  I feel that my opinions are valued within the group and not much changes for me.”

Finley’s first match as the new permanent captain will be the 2023/24 League One curtain raiser against Portsmouth. The former Fleetwood Town midfielder will be without Joey Barton to hear advice from but Andy Mangan will be there to support him.

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A big crowd is expected down in Hampshire, with more than 1,500 fans heading down South from the West Country. It is hoped that the team can reward those travelling with a good performance and an opening day victory that has eluded them since 2012.

He said: “I’m really excited, it’s going to be a tough start for us, but one we can’t wait for. These are the types of games you want to play football for. Hopefully, they will have a packed house and our away end will be full. Portsmouth is away, a massive club, let’s show them what we can do.

“I’ve got no doubt, they’ll be there in numbers outsinging Portsmouth, and hopefully, we get the win for them, it’s a lengthy journey for them, and they’re unbelievable in their support home and away, I can’t wait to step on the pitch and play in front of them.”

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