Bristol Rovers faced with five players who need to prove a point before season’s climax

Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now
The next few weeks may decide the futures of a few Bristol Rovers players

Bristol Rovers have had a near three-week break, but come this Friday, football returns when they face Charlton Athletic at the Memorial Stadium.

The Gas had their match with Shrewsbury Town postponed, and due to Plymouth Argyle’s involvement in the EFL Trophy, that match was moved also. Joey Barton’s side have played and beat Premier League side Aston Villa in a friendly match behind closed-doors, but now a busy month lies in store.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

It’s two games in four days as they first host Charlton, and then face Fleetwood Town over the Easter period, and in total they will play seven of their nine remaining matches this month. Survival is not yet secure but it is in sight, with a target of 52 points set by the manager at the start of the season.

Rovers have been inconsistent with their form and have been unable to get a good winning run together, but that just leaves players and staff with motivation to finish off the campaign as strong as possible. Here we look at five players who have a point to prove within the squad for the remainder of the season.

Luke McCormick

A big effort was made to secure McCormick in the summer, with a deal structured to bring him from Wimbledon back to the Mem. McCormick was regarded as a priority transfer target and they were prepared to wait, and even make interest in other targets public to try and get the Dons to move. Wimbledon eventually budged, but McCormick was made to train on his own, and a lack of pre-season affected his start at Rovers.

The former Chelsea youngster was recently subbed off at Forest Green, despite spending just a few minutes on the pitch. He was warned about his conduct by Barton, but since then has shown a positive response in training.

James Connolly

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Jarell Quansah’s three-game suspension is a massive blow for Rovers, and comes at a bad time. Rovers have an Easter double-header in front of them against two teams they should be picking points up from just to get them closer to the safety line. Quansah’s only tasted victory a few times but has shown that he is from another level after joining from Liverpool.

Quansah’s arrival and Lewis Gibson’s return has meant Connolly has had to settle for a place on the bench, but now there’s a big chance that he must grasp. Connolly’s arrival last year helped Rovers get promoted and he was later signed on a permanent deal, but numerous centre-back partners as well as a spell out with injury, has made it difficult for him to build up a level of consistency.

The former Cardiff City defender is one of the only out-and-out centre-backs contracted beyond the summer, and will be encouraged to deliver a string of good performances to secure his place in the side next season.

Aaron Collins

This is a different one, as Collins doesn’t need to prove himself to Rovers, as he’s already had a campaign that fans can be happy with. He has 15 goals and 11 assists, and whilst the goals aren’t coming at a prolific rate any more, he still chips in here and there.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

A removal of the captain’s armband was a big decision by Barton, and you’d hope some goals will come from somewhere, but it’s going to be some ask to win the Golden Boot award now.

Collins’ point to prove however is to the Welsh national team manager Rob Page, who snubbed him for a call-up last month. Wales got four points from their opening games and that was without the in-form Brennan Johnson, but it was still surprising to see Collins omitted.

He’ll have nine more matches to add more goals to his tally to make it impossible for Page to ignore him. He may be up against it playing in the third tier, compared to the likes of Kieffer Moore playing in the Premier League, but if the likes of Joe Morrell, Nathan Broadhead and Wes Burns can get in there, why can’t he?

Harry Anderson

Out-of-contract in the summer, this is an important time for Anderson. He was important to the side in their quest for promotion last season, playing in various roles and contributing to the cause, but this season has been a bit stop-start for him. The former Lincoln City winger has undergone surgery to hopefully rectify a groin problem and he should return after the busy Easter period.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

He’s had a bit of transfer speculation about him with promotion-chasing Portsmouth and National League leaders Wrexham both said to be interested. Joey Barton wants to keep him at the club, and talks began just after the New Year, but so far nothing has progressed. If Anderson can’t get back into the side, he could at least perform well to attract the best offer for himself.

Ryan Loft

At one point, Loft looked like the real deal in League One, and had a purple patch in August and September. The forward, signed from Scunthorpe United in January 2022, had a slow start to life at the Mem, and scored just once in his first six months at the club.

Loft has always been viewed as perhaps a longer-team investment, given they exchanged a fee for him with Scunthorpe United. He showed promise with four goals in as many games, but an injury ruled him out for nearly two months and it’s been hard to recover from that.

He was suspended for three matches for an elbow and since returning has had to settle for a place amongst the bench with three substitute appearances, racking up 57 minutes. Josh Coburn has kept Loft out of the side this season and most recently John Marquis has found form, and so for the former Spurs striker he needs to perform well in training and start scoring to avoid a repeat of this season.

Comment Guidelines

National World encourages reader discussion on our stories. User feedback, insights and back-and-forth exchanges add a rich layer of context to reporting. Please review our Community Guidelines before commenting.