Bristol Rovers expected starting line-up vs Sutton United - attacker needed to cause U’s problems

Bristol Rovers need to pick the team capable of beating Sutton United if they want to end a three-game winless run.
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Bristol Rovers face up against Sutton United at the Memorial Stadium on Tuesday evening in the Sky Bet League Two.

February is a busy month for the Gas as they get through the two games a week period that they have in front of them for the next month or so.

Up next is automatic promotion chasing Sutton who are currently fifth in the division, possessing a play-off spot that Rovers desire.

Below is the team that we expect Joey Barton to name tomorrow evening when they line up against the U’s.

Goalkeeper

James Belshaw made a welcome return to the team on Saturday after missing two games through injury. He didn’t have much to do with the Stags, rarely forcing him into any action.

In his post-match presser, Barton said that Belshaw is his definitive number one and back-up keeper Anssi Jaakola is aware of that, but the former Harrogate keeper knows he still needs to be at the top of his game.

Josh Grant hasn’t played for Bristol Rovers since their draw with Sutton United. (Photo by Alex Burstow/Getty Images)Josh Grant hasn’t played for Bristol Rovers since their draw with Sutton United. (Photo by Alex Burstow/Getty Images)
Josh Grant hasn’t played for Bristol Rovers since their draw with Sutton United. (Photo by Alex Burstow/Getty Images)

Defence

There was a strong defensive showing from the youthful defence on Saturday so not too many changes will be made because when an area of the field keeps a clean sheet, there is no reason to make wholesale changes.

On-loan pair Connor Taylor and James Connolly seem a settled centre-back partnership right now with the former winning another man-of-the-match award.

There was also a mature performance from right-back Luca Hoole, who put in a good shift with some good composure on the ball.

Hoole’s performance means that the only place up for grabs perhaps is at left-back where Nick Anderton started, but if Josh Grant is available you’d start him for his attacking outlet. He had an injection for patellar tendinitis after suffering an injury on Sutton’s hard surface during the last meeting between Rovers and Sutton.

Midfield

There’s been a few comments from Barton that Sam Finley still isn’t 100% but with a player like him you have to play him. If he gets through these games unscathed then the best remedy is game time.

Partnering him in that two man defensive midfield that guards the back line as well as providing an outlet to the attack is Paul Coutts.

He would perhaps be best suited in partnering Paul Coutts with the two playing as defensive midfielders though he has the freedom to go forward.

Harry Anderson did well on Saturday but there’s something about Luke Thomas where he can change a game. The Barnsley loanee has had time spent out of the side but a return could be the fresh he needed.

Sam Nicholson didn’t have the impact he’d have desired on Saturday but it was a frustrating day all around for an attacker, on both sides.

In the centre of the midfield attacking three is Newcastle United loanee Elliot Anderson who will deputise in that role in the continued absence of Antony Evans. Evans is a big blow with his 11 goal contributions this season but Anderson has shown the promise to make a real impact to the team.

Forward

Leading the line on his own again is Aaron Collins, who has done a capable job in the absence of an out-and-out number nine. He had a penalty appeal on Saturday but other than that it was a quiet day for him.

He’s missing a target man to play off but there are question marks whether Leon Clarke will be available or not, so expect Collins to continue.

Bristol Rovers (4-2-3-1): James Belshaw, Luca Hoole, Connor Taylor, James Connolly, Josh Grant, Sam Finley, Paul Coutts, Sam Nicholson, Elliot Anderson, Luke Thomas, Aaron Collins.