Bristol Rovers hit transfer snag as League Two club joins race for key position

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Bristol Rovers face a battle in their bid to re-sign one of their loan players after transfer details emerged.

Bristol Rovers' transfer plans are well underway after they released their retained list on Saturday morning.

Paul Coutts, Calum MacDonald, and Harry Anderson have all departed the Memorial Stadium having not been offered new contracts. Alex Rodman has retired, whilst Anssi Jaakkola has taken up a permanent coaching role.

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Grant Ward and Josh Grant have been offered new deals, as well as Harvey Greenslade and Ryan Jones. Ward and Grant was to be expected, but the offers to Greenslade and Jones is a bonus, as the club hope to bring through homegrown talent.

All five loan players; Ellery Balcombe, Lamare Bogarde, Josh Coburn, Lewis Gibson and Jarell Quansah have returned to their parent club. Joey Barton has previously spoken about wanting to re-sign all of his loan players, as he would like continuity, but each player has a unique situation, and he could now encounter some difficulties re-signing one player from this season.

The South London Press report that AFC Wimbledon are looking to sign Ellery Balcombe this summer. First choice goalkeeper Nik Tzanev looks set to leave for Championship club Blackburn Rovers and that will mean that the Dons are on the search for a replacement, and they have identified several targets. Wimbledon are said to have 'already shown interest' in Ballcombe, but he has interest from clubs higher than League Two, which could mean Balcombe could potentially line up against Rovers next season.

Balcombe made eight appearances for Rovers since joining from Brentford in January, and kept clean sheets whilst conceding 12 goals. Despite failing to win a game during his time in the West Country, Balcombe provided competition for firm fan favourite James Belshaw, and a return has not been ruled out.

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“If we can get them back I’d be open to explore that and give them continuity that you lose with the loan market,” said Barton following the conclusion of the season on May 7. If we can convert a few of them into permanents, I’d definitely explore that option.

“It can’t have helped when the fan base are singing Belly’s name. It’s not what you want to hear, no matter what. If you go home tonight and get in bed with your missus and she starts singing someone else’s name, it certainly knocks your confidence. I think his character and the bits he showed in between I think he’s a proper kid.

“He’s suffered from Belly’s favouritism and Belly has earned the right to have that rapport with our fans. I’m really pleased with how Ellery’s done in the moments he’s got. He’s shown enormous character.”

The goalkeeping position is an area that will be assessed this summer, given Jaakola’s retirement gives them one less option. Jed Ward spent most of the season on loan with Hungerford Town, but returned to make just his second league appearanace against Port Vale.

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