Bristol Rovers suffer major injury blow as ex-Chelsea midfielder ruled out for the season
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Bristol Rovers utility man Josh Grant will miss the rest of the season after undergoing surgery for a knee injury, which has plagued his season.
The 24-year-old made one substitute appearance against Oxford United in the current campaign. He had suffered an injury in pre-season and missed several matches which saw him play catch-up to his teammates.
Grant sought the advice of specialists last week in London to get to the bottom of his injury and the advice was to undergo surgery to rectify the issue. He had been suffering with patellar tendinitis revealed first-team manager Joey Barton in the opposite knee to the one he had issues with last season.
"I’ve exchanged a few messages with Josh, he’s had surgery this morning,” Barton revealed in his pre-match press conference ahead of the trip to Cheltenham. "It probably puts pay to his season. It’s a tricky one, he’s got to get through one surgery and then he might need a little more surgery.
"We’re hoping that will get to the bottom for it. I think from our perspective it writes him off for this season but we’re hoping to get him back in pre-season. It will be like signing a new player, Josh is a top kid. We’re going to support him in this tough period."
The former Chelsea youngster is one of several first-team players out of contract in the summer and surgery will make him unable to earn a deal from his efforts on the pitch. Barton however has worked with the defensive midfielder since his appointment in February 2021 and has been impressed with what he has seen.
Contract discussions haven’t been held with Grant’s agents or representatives as of yet but he is a player that the manager would like to keep beyond his current deal. Rovers are keen to do right by the player through nursing him through a lengthy set-back and getting the best out of him when he is ready to return.
"For us Josh is a player we are keen to keep," he admitted. "We’ll have a chat with him and his representatives.
"If we’re going to fix him, getting him fixed now and hopefully this is the end. Hopefully this is the end of his set backs that we still think there is enough juice in the player and I think he’s a really good player.
"We haven’t had a chat with his agent or his representatives yet but I think that the conversation is coming. We’ve had some chats kind of power level at our club in terms of the owner, Tom Gorringe and Eddy Jennings is aware of it. We don’t leave anyone behind and this could be the root of Josh’s set backs.
"It’s sad it’s taken him to 23 to find it but he could be 33. I do believe if we get him through this we’ve got a really good player. He’s got a right chance. He’s only just got surgery and there’s a long way to go on it but we want to support Josh."
Grant, predominantly a defensive midfielder but last season played as both a right-back and left-back in Rovers four-man defence system is highly thought of by the former Newcastle United midfielder. Barton played the same position as Grant during his playing career and has seen many attributes in the Brixton-born players game to mould a good opinion of the player.
Before moving to Rovers, he was on the books of Chelsea and played for England’s Under-20’s in a Three Lions side that boasted the likes of Harvey Barnes and Champions League winning defender Reece James.
Barton is of the belief that had Grant not suffered the setbacks during the early stages of his career, he would still be on the books of Graham Potter’s Chelsea. At 24-years-old there is a hope that he can overcome what is a major setback for any player of any age, but that he has the ability to revert to a coach in the absence of playing.
“If Josh would have been injury free you wouldn’t have got to him,” Barton said.
“He’s probably good enough to have got in around Chelsea’s first-team and if not their first-team, he certainly wouldn’t miss that by far. It puts you at a very good stage.
“The reason he is here is because he’s had a lot of set-backs and hopefully this can turn a corner for him. He is lucky as he’s got a good head on his shoulders and could probably flip his brain over to coaching very quickly.”