Bristol Rovers hit by suspension blow ahead of Wycombe and Portsmouth clashes

The Gas are already limited on numbers - and now suspension adds to injuries
James Gibbons cannot be selected for Bristol Rovers. (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)James Gibbons cannot be selected for Bristol Rovers. (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)
James Gibbons cannot be selected for Bristol Rovers. (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)

Bristol Rovers will be unable to call upon James Gibbons for the next two matches after he was hit with a two-match ban by the English FA.

Gibbons was charged by the FA for improper conduct against MK Dons in the Gas' 2-0 defeat on February 4, which also saw Sam Finley given a three-game ban for violent conduct. A decision on what punishment Gibbons would receive has finally been made, and despite Rovers’ appeal he will have to sit out the next two matches.

The Gas are without club captain Paul Coutts through injury this evening and Sam Finley is a doubt, as he missed the 3-1 win over Forest Green Rovers on Saturday. Harry Anderson, Josh Grant and Jordan Rossiter are all long-term absentees with Anderson the only player likely to make a playing return this campaign.

A statement from Rovers read: "Defender James Gibbons has been suspended by the FA for two matches after being charged with improper conduct - which the club appealed - during the recent game with MK Dons., The suspension starts with immediate effect."

Gibbons' ban will start with tonight's clash with Wycombe Wanderers, and will also mean he is unable to play against Portsmouth on Saturday, March 18. Both matches are at the Memorial Stadium, and it is a slight blow for Joey Barton, who has already been dealt a few selection blows through injury and illness.

The 24-year-old has come on as a substitute against Barnsley and Forest Green Rovers, but before that had started seven consecutive matches. He has so far made 29 appearances across all competitions with 19 starts and 10 appearances from the bench, with an assist to John Marquis in the 2-1 defeat to Burton Albion last month.

Gibbons will thankfully return for the match against Shrewsbury Town on March 25, and will be needed after Luca Hoole was called up for international duty for Wales Under-21's. Hoole will link up with the Wales squad next week, and that will make him unavailable, which is a blow given he's played the last few matches as a right-sided centre-back in a three.