Bristol Rovers’ predicted starting line-up versus Walsall - midfielder expected to return
Here is Nathan Potter’s take on how Joey Barton might line up his side against Walsall today
Bristol Rovers continue their busy schedule as they take on Walsall at the Memorial Stadium in Sky Bet League Two.
The Gas will be hopeful that they can add another win to their name after defeating Scunthorpe United in midweek.
Opponents Walsall too aren’t in the greatest run of form and are winless in their last five, losing the last four.
Ahead of the match, Joey Barton will have a task ahead of him to choose the team that will need to beat the Saddlers in their pursuit of a play-off spot.
BristolWorld gives their take on the team that Barton may name come 14.00 GMT today
In goal we’ve gone for the obvious choice of James Belshaw. Since joining the club in the summer Belshaw has been able to make the position his own and has been able to show why on multiple occasions why he deserves his spot. It could take Anssi Jaakkola a lot to retain his previous number one spot that was his before he was injured.
On Tuesday night the gas lined up in a 4-2-3-1. The backline could look familiar once again for Rovers with no one reported to be returning from injury to add to the backline options. Josh Grant, Connor Taylor, James Connolly, and Luca Hoole are all expected to keep their places despite the late scare on Tuesday.
In midfield, I think we’ll see Sam Finley, Paul Coutts, and Glenn Whelan. Whelan could make a return to the side after missing the last two games through a family bereavement. The reasoning for this is Rovers have games coming thick and fast due to postponements earlier in the season through covid. With games being played every few days players will need to be rested. I think we could see Whelan come in and replace Sam Nicholson just to give the Scot a rest and freshen things up.
Nicholson did provide an assist for Josh Grant’s opening goal and had a number of opportunities to score but failed to take them.
It’ll be touch-and-go for whether Sam Finley is available after undergoing a scan for an injury after being taken off on Tuesday as a precaution.
In attack, I think we’ll see Luke Thomas and Anthony Evans out wide with Aaron Collins playing through the middle. I think it’ll be hard to drop Thomas after the performance that he had on Tuesday. Thomas played well against Scunthorpe and had the confidence to run at the defenders, causing them a number of problems.
Evans meanwhile was on target after earning a penalty and scoring from it. His contribution to the side is unrivalled and is one of the first names on the team sheet.
You can’t drop Collins, after all, he is the club’s top goal scorer and despite not finding the net last time out against Scunthorpe United I would say his confidence is still very high with him being unlucky not to find the net on Tuesday and with Loft available.
Line-up against Walsall: James Belshaw, Josh Grant, Connor Taylor, James Connolly, Luca Hoole, Sam Finley, Paul Coutts, Glenn Whelan, Luke Thomas, Anthony Evans, Aaron Collins (4-3-3).