The pros and cons of Bristol Rovers signing Ellis Harrison: Fan favorite but is he the striker needed?

Out-of-contract Ellis Harrison is free to leave Portsmouth this month. (Photo by Naomi Baker/Getty Images)Out-of-contract Ellis Harrison is free to leave Portsmouth this month. (Photo by Naomi Baker/Getty Images)
Out-of-contract Ellis Harrison is free to leave Portsmouth this month. (Photo by Naomi Baker/Getty Images) | Getty Images
Popular striker who began his career at Bristol Rovers has been linked with a return to his former club this month

Bristol Rovers fans were on high alert this week as they were linked with a return for Ellis Harrison.

The January transfer window has opened and fans will want to see some reinforcements brought in to help mount a serious promotion push for the second half of the season.

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Sometimes it’s better to move on from a former player but Harrison’s name is one that Gas fans have clung onto.

And fans of Harrison were given some optimism, as Neil Allen, a reporter for Portsmouth.co.uk which extensively covers the Hampshire club, said that Rovers were one of three clubs interested in him this month.

They along with Joey Barton’s former club Fleetwood Town and Shrewsbury Town are interested.

Pompey are keen to get the player off their books and with his contract up at the end of the season, they may be inclined to let him leave on loan to Rovers.

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There were some big moments in Ellis Harrison’s first spell at Bristol Rovers. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images )There were some big moments in Ellis Harrison’s first spell at Bristol Rovers. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images )
There were some big moments in Ellis Harrison’s first spell at Bristol Rovers. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images ) | Getty Images

Why Bristol Rovers should sign Ellis Harrison

They say that sometimes you shouldn’t return to a club and that you should leave your memories in the past.

The return of a former player can sometimes improve the mood of a football club. A signing like Harrison could lift the morale of players who would have to work harder to keep their place in the team.

Fans meanwhile would see Harrison as perhaps a statement of intent if they could make a deal happen, given he’s playing at a higher level. He’s an academy product of a club so there’s a relationship between fans and player.

If the deal is a loan until the end of the season with Rovers not paying all the wages in full then a deal should definitely be explored. Perhaps six months in familiar surroundings will do Harrison the world of good as he can build his reputation again. If it works out then he’s in a good position to stay permanently and if he plays well he can also attract interest from different clubs.

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Why Bristol Rovers shouldn’t sign Ellis Harrison

The Welshman would be coming to Rovers with minimal game time as he is not part of Danny Cowley’s plans. Admittedly it’s at a higher level but he has made just 11 appearances this season and only one of those has been starts.

He’s also not the kind of striker that is needed right now. He’s in a similar mould to Aaron Collins who has given us the impression that there is more to come from him after finding form recently.

What Rovers need is a number nine, a bulldozer kind of striker, who can deal with the rough and tumble of the division. Brett Pitman is an option in the current ranks but he’s not made the desired impact as of yet. There is also Leon Clarke, who we hope will make a return to the first-team fold soon but nothing has been said about his return.

In his 205 appearances for the club, he registered 52 goals which is about a goal every four games, reaching double figures twice in his eight years at the club.

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If he was to take up a large chunk of Rovers’ budget then there would need to be a big impact from a player who would need to deliver.

How likely is it that a deal could take place?

There seems to be some substance behind this given the various outlets reporting it. Rovers definitely have some interest in the player as he was a target in the summer window.

Harrison though did not favour dropping into League Two, a division he hasn’t played in since 2016.

A departure from Fratton Park looks likely but whether that is to his former club remains to be seen.

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Harrison hails from Newport and a move to Bristol would make him closer to his family with just a short trip across the Severn Bridge.

At 27-years-old though, he’ll want to play at the highest level possible given the short career of a footballer.

If we assess the teams interested then Shrewsbury Town are the best option given they’re the highest placed team in the English pyramid out of the three.

The Shrews are above the relegation zone in League One meanwhile Fleetwood are in a similar predicament but four points behind them.

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Rovers meanwhile aren’t near the promotion spots in League Two so it would pose some risk on his career if he were to drop a division.

What has Joey Barton said?

No names has been mentioned but there is definitely some interest in recruiting a striker this month.

One or two players have been discussed by the boss which means a move for Harrison doesn’t necessarily move out a move for the target man.

In his pre-match press conference for Leyton Orient, he said: "We have got to do something in the frontline, we’d like to bring in at least one, maybe two options there. But the January market is notoriously difficult to do.

"It is an opportunity to freshen up the building and shuffle the deck a bit but, for us, it’s about momentum and finishing the second half of the season really strongly."

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