Bristol Rovers injury situation clearing up as Joey Barton could call upon new signing, midfield star & others

Things are looking rosier in the Bristol Rovers camp with key players returning from differing injuries

<p>Joey Barton may find himself in a selection headache with all of his key players nearing returns. (Photo by Naomi Baker/Getty Images)</p>

Joey Barton may find himself in a selection headache with all of his key players nearing returns. (Photo by Naomi Baker/Getty Images)

Bristol Rovers could be boosted by the return of Antony Evans and other key players for their game against Stevenage, reveals manager Joey Barton.

Evans has missed the last two matches after injuring his hamstring against Oldham Athletic with the Gas medical team taking no precautions on their talisman.

The 23-year-old has the most goal contributions with six goals and six assists and his absence was evident against Oldham and to an extent Mansfield.

Evans though is now pushing for a place in the team after resuming training this week with the Scouser pushing hard to be a part of the match day squad.

“He’s back training today. He’s trained for a short period and gone to do some extra work. I’m hoping he comes back into the fold tomorrow with no reaction.

“It puts him back into contention for Saturday’s game. We’ve got Ryan Loft who looks like he might be back in contention to play minutes, Clarkey getting back on the pitch. The lads are feeling confident and good about themselves.”

“The injury list is clearing up a little bit which is what you want when you’re getting at the last few furlongs of the race. You want options and competition for places.

“I think everybody is going to have a part to play. I still have Trevor Clarke earmarked in coming in and showing us what he is about before the end of the season. He’s back on the grass today, he hasn’t quite joined the group yet.

“We’ve got some good players to come back, we’ve got to keep fostering it.”

The return of Evans could pose a selection problem in where the team accommodates both him and on loan Newcastle United midfielder Elliot Anderson.

Anderson initially slotted in as a central midfielder alongside Paul Coutts, before playing then as a winger against Oldham and as a number ten against Mansfield and the Sutton once more.

The 19-year-old put a solid display in on Tuesday and got an assist for the first goal as well as coming out with some positive statistics that went in his favour.

There will now be a task should Evans slot straight back into the team on whether the team can accommodate both players or whether a reshuffle may be needed.

‘You’d try and get them in the same team together at some point,” Barton said.

“We’ve got a lot of good players so you’re going to have situations where some players aren’t gonna be starting or make the match day squad.

“It’s up to those guys in the jerseys to stay in them and the ones not in them to put pressure on and try and take it off them.

“It leads to a good competitive training ground environment which will lead to a good competitive match day performance.

Jon Nolan, signed after the January window shut, is nearing his first involvement for Bristol Rovers. (Photo by Stephen Pond/Getty Images)

Rovers fans are still yet to see midfielder Jon Nolan turn out in the blue and white quarters after his February arrival.

The 29-year-old joined on a free transfer from Ipswich Town after enduring a difficult year where he hasn’t played any competitive minutes.

Nolan though has integrated with the squad today and is another player that could give Joey Barton a selection headache, along with the potential return of January signing Ryan Loft.

“All coming back into it. Jon Nolan has trained fully with the group today,” said Barton. “Ryan Loft is the same. Junior Brown is still out, he’s still in treatment and he’ll be at least another two, three or four weeks.

“Trevor Clarke joined the group today for an extended period and then separated and did a bit more, same as Antony Evans and Alfie Kilgour.

“All at different stages but all moving back to being available to choose for a match day.”

One player who won’t be available is utility man Josh Grant, who has Patellar tendinitis which is an injury around his knee bone.

He hasn’t played since the away match against Sutton United which aggravated the injury to an extent, despite receiving a number of injections.

In his place at right-back though has been Luca Hoole, who has pounced at the opportunity, cementing himself as part of a youthful back line that has claimed two consecutive clean sheets.

“Josh hasn’t come back on the grass yet. He’s making progress and I’m hoping to get him back next week. He’s still not fully integrated with the group.”