Bristol Rovers confirm first winter transfer signing as Premier League goalkeeper signs

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It’s the first signing of the January transfer window for Bristol Rovers

Bristol Rovers have announced their first signing of the January transfer window with the loan signing of goalkeeper Ellery Balcombe from Brentford.

The Gas have had two departures so far this month, with Alfie Kilgour departing to Mansfield for an undisclosed fee, and Trevor Clarke joining Shamrock Rovers on loan until November.

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Joey Barton spoke of his desire to recruit up to six new players, and now that has dwindled down to five. Defensive frailties as of late prompted talk of his side strengthening their defence, and Balcome becomes Rovers’ first signing, with 12 days left of the window.

The shot-stopper spent the first half of the season on loan at Crawley, where he made 12 appearances, and joins the Gas on a loan deal until the end of the season. It is the seventh loan of Balcombe’s career after recent spells at Bromley, Burton Albion and Doncaster Rovers.

He is a six-time England Under-20 international and played alongside current Rovers midfielder Josh Grant against Japan, as well as being at Brentford the same time as Lewis Gordon. At Under-17 level Ballcombe played alongside Champions League winner and England international Mason Mount.

Balcombe will provide competition for James Belshaw, who has held the position for over a year and was a huge part of the Gas’ promotion success of last season. Belshaw was named the Player of the Year for his 17 clean sheets, and now he has two senior competitors for his position.

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Barton revealed that he was considering a move for another goalkeeper after his side’s 4-3 defeat to Exeter City after Christmas. Every players position was up for grabs as the club look to continue their push for a League One play-off spot.

Anssi Jaakola had been the understudy to James Belshaw, falling down the pecking order after an injury sustained last season. Jaakola had been first choice at the Memorial Stadium, but has had to play second fiddle to Belshaw, only featuring in the EFL Trophy this season.

Youngster Jed Ward meanwhile has spent a large part of the campaign on loan at Hungerford Town. Ward did return to his parent club after an injury but

Balcombe joins the Gas having already had League One experience, having joined Doncaster Rovers in January of the 2020/21 season. He made 15 appearances, as Doncaster finished 14th. Balcombe also had a spell at Burton Albion, but did not feature in a league match.

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