Bristol Rovers forward poised for transfer exit as Hartlepool and Tranmere Rovers eye move

Another player looks set to leave the Memorial Stadium - freeing up funds for transfers
Harvey Saunders looks to be on the move from Bristol Rovers. (Photo by Alex Pantling/Getty Images)Harvey Saunders looks to be on the move from Bristol Rovers. (Photo by Alex Pantling/Getty Images)
Harvey Saunders looks to be on the move from Bristol Rovers. (Photo by Alex Pantling/Getty Images)

Harvey Saunders looks set to leave Bristol Rovers with Joey Barton confirming that multiple clubs in League Two are interested in him.

His potential departure could make him the fith player to leave this month after Trevor Clarke was loaned to Shamrock, Alfie Kilgour was sold to Mansfield Town, and Zain Westbrooke’s contract was cancelled. Bobby Thomas’ loan deal was also terminated and he subsequently joined League One rivals Barnsley.

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Saunders’ time at the Gas looks to be coming to an end with several League Two teams showing an interest during the January transfer window. Tranmere Rovers were said to be one club interested as per BristolLive but Hartlepool United are another believed to be in the running.

The 25-year-old has a decision to make with five days left of the transfer window. Tranmere are eight places higher than Hartlepool and are six places off the play-offs.

“There’s been a few sniffing around him,” Barton revealed. “It will be him and his agent I think. He’s a great lad and he is desperate to go and play.

“I kind of want to keep him because we’re a little bit short in areas but it’s not the right thing for the kid.

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The 25-year-old joined Rovers in the summer of 2021, reuniting with Barton at a second club after working together at Fleetwood Town. Saunders has made 20 appearances for the Gas this season, but 16 of them have been substitute appearances. He made a ten-minute cameo appearance against Accrignton Stanley, and a 45-minute outing against Plymouth Argyle, but struggled for game time with his two goals coming in the EFL Trophy.

He is out-of-contract at the end of the season, and during his time in the West Country, he has been unable to force his way in to the side with Aaron Collins spearheading Rovers’ attack over the last 18 months. The arrivals of John Marquis and Josh Coburn this summer, as well as the early season form of Ryan Loft has made it difficult for him to start as a striker.

Rovers’ change to a three-at-the-back system that includes playing with wing-backs has also made it hard for Saunders to get in to the side, given he is predominantly an attack-minded player that is better suited up the further of the pitch. Rovers have Harry Anderson and Scott Sinclair as options should they revert back to a system that uses wingers.

“I can’t keep him as an insurance policy for other people getting injured,” Barton said. He’s been a great servant for me in my coaching career, he’s been brilliant.”

“He’s desperate to get on and get playing regularly, I think he’s going to have opportunities to do that. It allows us to recoup some money we can invest back into the side.”

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