Bristol Rovers midfield duo 'in contention' for Port Vale match after returning from injury

Bristol Rovers: Memorial Stadium Bristol Rovers: Memorial Stadium
Bristol Rovers: Memorial Stadium
Matt Taylor confirms midfield pair are back training and are in the squad for Friday's trip to Port Vale.

Bristol Rovers manager Matt Taylor has confirmed that midfield duo Grant Ward and Luke McCormick are "in contention" for the Gas' trip to Port Vale on Good Friday.

The pair have both had a torrid time with injuries this season and will be hoping that this is the end of their spell of rotten luck.

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"Grant Ward has got over that issue which kept him out of the Lincoln game and he has had a couple more days training, so he will be in contention," said Taylor.

The 29-year-old has managed just 13 League One starts for Rovers this campaign and has had been in and out of the side. The midfielder missed over two months back in January, when he was forced off in Rovers' draw at Norwich City in the second-round of the FA Cup, where the former Spurs player scored that, with an emphatic strike to force a home replay.

He then returned to the fold earlier on this month, where he made a substitute appearance for the Gas in their goalless draw away at Fleetwood Town, but subsequently missed the 5-0 hammering at Lincoln City the week after.

"Whatever it was has settled down," said Taylor. "We didn’t feel that it was serious at the time, but the history and experience of the medical staff have got with Grant, probably made us make that decision to leave him out of that Lincoln defeat. You want all of your players available at every opportunity, but it was a little bit of an extra kick in the gut."

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Gasheads will be desperate to see the central midfielder back in a Rovers shirt, but Taylor warns that Ward must take things slowly upon his return. "He returned and he was back and the fans and ourselves were getting excited and you were thinking right what is next, more game time, more minutes and all of sudden it was taken away from us, so hopefully it’s the second return and he stays put for a fair bit longer."

Ward's midfield teammate, McCormick, is another player that has had terrible luck with injuries this season. The 25-year-old has managed just five starts in the league for the Gas this season. However, there is some positive news on the former Chelsea player's progress.

"McCormick is back in full training," said Taylor. "He has had this international break to train with ourselves, so he has had four or five days of proper training and he looks bright." The attacking midfielder hasn't featured for Rovers since the end of January, due to a persistent back issue. "Hopefully the stiffness and problem he has had in his back will continue to subside," said Taylor.

McCormick scored in Rovers' FA Cup replayed tie against the Canaries at the Mem back in January and he has certainly shown that he is a significant contributor in front of goal. However, the ex Chelsea academy graduate has been utilised in a slightly deeper role when fit, due to the absences of the likes of Ward. "We saw him for a brief period post-Christmas and hopefully we will see him stay available for a little bit longer than previous and maybe in a slightly higher role as well," Taylor added.

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