Bristol Rovers double absence explained as Joey Barton provides injury latest

The Gas had two players missing in their 2-0 defeat to MK Dons
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Antony Evans and James Belshaw Bristol Rovers absence explained after double injury setback. Bristol Rovers had to contend with two injury blows in the build-up to their 2-0 defeat to MK Dons.

The Gas’ losing streak was extended to four in all competitions after a clinical victory from the Dons at the Memorial Stadium. Two players that would have featured were Antony Evans and James Belshaw, but both players were absent. The pair suffered problems from the 5-1 defeat to Morecambe last week.

Belshaw, who did not play against the Shrimps, was back-up to Ellery Balcombe last week, but sustained an injury in the warm-up. The 32-year-old has been the first-choice for most of Barton’s tenure but the arrival of Balcombe has made for competition for places but for at least the next two matches, he will be absent.

Anssi Jakkola replaced Belshaw amongst the substitutes today, and could assume the same role for the trip to Sincil Bank next week to face Lincoln City. Belshaw may have made the squad had he received an injection but Barton has instructed him to recover.

He said: “Belly felt his rib in between the warm-up, obviously he’s diving around saving the shots for the lads who are starting.

“He felt his rib and tried to train Monday and Tuesday, he was struggling. He would have been able to go on the bench or start today had he taken a pain killing injection.

“As we were going to start Ellery who is going to be the starting keeper we said to Belly just to get it right for the first-team as soon as you’re back ready you can get out there. By that time, Ellery will have played his third game and we will see where we are.”

Evans was also absent, and missed his first league game of the season. The 24-year-old has missed just one match this season after missing the EFL Trophy win over Crystal Palace in October.

The last time he completed an entire match was against Wycombe Wanderers on Boxing Day. He was substituted for Ryan Loft last week against Morecambe with the score at 3-0. Evans made a push to be involved this week but ultimately missed out.

“It’s a bruised foot, I think he picked it up Saturday,” said Barton. “Somebody whopped him on the game Saturday. He trained Thursday and was in far too much pain. He couldn’t make the squad today with bruising in his foot.

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