Bristol Rovers squad update as Joey Barton considers turning to faith after injury crisis
Rovers are patching their players up for the visit of Lincoln City on Saturday afternoon
The Gas are going through an injury and suspension crisis at the moment with almost a whole team out of action through various reasons.
Alfie Kilgour’s red card he picked up in the late stages of the defeat to Ipswich Town had meant that he could have been without a recognised centre-back but Rovers have been successful in their appeal.
His partner Bobby Thomas is a guaranteed absentee after his two successive yellow cards which can not be appealed, joining Jordan Rossiter who serves the final match of his three-match suspension.
Injuries have also plagued the team with defence a particular area that has been hampered the most with James Connolly, Lewis Gibson and James Gibbons injured.
Rovers have suffered and are on a five-game winless run but Barton says a few are on their way back and almost ready for contention.
In his pre-match press conference, Barton said: “I went with the injury list this morning and looked at the calendar of when they are going to be back on the grass.
“We’ve got lads in the worst case scenario who are about a month away and a couple of lads who are a couple of weeks away and a week away.
“You can see the light at the end of the tunnel and the problem is if anything gets excacerbated in the short-term.
“As sods law usually has it that happens before you get back. I’ve got got everything crossed and I’ll definitely go to Bristol Cathedral this week and make a few Hail Mary’s to try and get our group back.
“I do feel we have a young hungry and energetic competent team when everyone is available. The frustrating thing for us is everyone hasn’t been together at this moment in time.
“I don’t think we’ve had our best team on the pitch. I don’t think we’ve had our best group together for a consistent period.”
As well as the two red cards shown at Portman Road, Rovers were dealt a blow when Harry Anderson was forced off with an injury.
Anderson, starting as a right-sided winger went down from an off-the-ball injury and failed to run it off with Harvey Saunders replacing him.
The 25-year-old was one of three changes made on Tuesday having gone through a period where he had to settle for substitute appearances.
Anderson could miss the visit of his former team of whom he won promotion from League Two from but isn’t expected to be on the sidelines for long.
Barton said: “We’re seeing how that settles down because we were worried it’s maybe a broken toe or a broken foot.
“Thankfully it’s not a broken bone because that would have meant a really long lay off but sometimes bruising can be really really painful and in the wrong part of the body, bone bruising can feel worse than a break.
“Hopefully, that settles down really quickly. Is that going to bring him into Saturday’s contention? I’m not sure but we’re hoping it’s days not weeks.”
On-loan Everton centre-back Lewis Gibson has missed the last three matches through an injury which has lasted longer than expected.
Gibson was just about settling in to the side before picking up his injury which has left Rovers short at the back given their lengthy list of absentees.
The 22-year-old struggled for game time at Sheffield Wednesday last season due to injury and there is a desire to build robustness into his game.
He will likely miss the match at the Mem on Saturday but could play a part against Accrington Stanley next week.
Barton said: “He hasn’t trained today. He’s going to struggle. He’s got a realistic chance for next week.
“For me, it’s the case of, for the end of this year and end of this season you hope to get him into a position where he can play more regularly.”