Bristol Rovers expected starting line-up against Ipswich - Everton defender misses out amid two changes
Bristol Rovers predicted team as they take on leaves Ipswich Town in their returning League One fixture.
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The Gas face Ipswich Town who are top of the league standings at Portman Road tonight (7.45 pm, BST).
Rovers are on a five game winless run across all competitions and face a difficult task of getting back to winning ways against a side that has yet to taste a defeat in the league this season.
As for team news, on-loan Everton defender Lewis Gibson is likely to be out longer than initially thought though it is not expected to be a serious injury, but it could rule him out for this weeks fixtures at least.
Defence is an area where most injuries have happened with James Connolly the other first-choice centre-back injured with a fracture which has him out for at least the next month.
James Gibbons was the first to suffer a serious injury and he is out for the next two months or so but is stepping up his recovery.
It is likely to be too soon for Josh Coburn to make his debut but Sylvester Jasper celebrates his birthday and Bobby Thomas will want to build on a positive debut after scoring against Morecambe.
This is the first of two games this week and so the squad may have to be carefully managed with some players unable to complete the entire match.
With that in mind, here is how we think the Gas will line up in Suffolk this evening. Are you making the trip?
Goalkeeper - James Belshaw
Belshaw hasn’t had as many clean sheets as he would have liked but he remains an important figure to the side and has made a string of good saves in matches this season.
Right-back - Luca Hoole
The likely absence of Lewis Gibson does ask the question of whether Hoole should be considered at centre-back tonight but it would be best suited to continue the Wales Under-21 defender as a full-back.
Centre-back: Bobby Thomas
Thomas arrived from Rovers with Vincent Kompany’s backing and is a player that for sure could be important this season.
He struggled with injury last year but was thrown in for his debut and ended up salvaging a point for Rovers.
With a lack of other options in the role at the moment, he should expect to make a second consecutive appearance.
Centre-back: Alfie Kilgour
Kilgour will not get a better chance than this with two players in his position injured. The academy graduate on the sidelines himself last year and now faces a battle to force his way into Barton’s plans properly.
He may not be the ball playing centre half that Rovers teams under Barton are accustomed to but sometimes you need the nitty gritty defenders to frustrate the league’s most prolific attacks.
Left-back: Harry Anderson
Anderson performed well in the role against Oxford United earlier in the season and is more accustomed to the division than Lewis Gordon.
Gordon has not put a foot wrong in matches but Anderson may cope better with Ipswich’s tricky wingers, whilst he is also able to offer something going forward should Rovers find themselves in a spell of pressure.
CM: Paul Coutts
Coutts gets the nod in the absence of Jordan Rossiter in this team, though the two are closely matched. Rossiter and Coutts have their own unique strengths and hopefully the captain will get them through tonight.
CM: Sam Finley
Finley is a box-to-box midfielder that can cause teams problems and it’s a necessity he starts. He can get right up in players faces and he is the driving force in the midfield.
RM: Antony Evans
Evans had spells last year as a right-sided winger and this could be where he finds his feet in the division. He would have liked to have had more of a say on games this season and so the inclusion of both Evans and McCormick, could be a recipe for success.
CAM: Luke McCormick
McCormick is still being managed back after being exiled from the Wimbledon squad following his desire to leave. The player is clearly talented and a start this evening could be the first step to him integrating himself back into the side in a key role.
LM: Aaron Collins
Collins continues to be Rovers’ driving force this season, despite being put out wide after playing centrally for most of last season.
The 24-year-old was named in the Team of the Week for the last match day and is one of the players who could unlock the Ipswich defence.
ST: Ryan Loft
Loft is on a scoring streak at the minute, scoring three goals in as many matches and so he deserves to start.
This could see John Marquis drop to the bench as packing the midfield to nullify Ipswich will be the ultimate task.
Marquis can still be a handful off the bench and with five substitutes permitted, he could make an arrival at half-time if things aren’t going Rovers way.
Bristol Rovers (4-2-3-1): James Belshaw; Luca Hoole, Bobby Thomas, Alfie Kilgour, Harry Anderson; Paul Coutts, Sam Finley, Antony Evans, Luke McCormick, Aaron Collins; Ryan Loft.