Bristol Rovers team news as ex-loanee starts for Barnsley and former target on bench

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It’s a subtle change to the Rovers starting XI as Paul Coutts replaces player-coach Glenn Whelan in the centre

Joey Barton has made one change to the Bristol Rovers team that beat Oxford United 1-0 at the Memorial Stadium last Saturday.

Paul Coutts comes in for Glenn Whelan, taking the captain’s armband for what is his first game of the League One season.

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Coutts had been suspended for the opening three matches of the 2022/23 campaign but is now available for selection.

Harry Anderson, who had an impressive showing in his last match at right-back remains in defence with Luca Hoole and James Connolly continuing to play at centre-back with Lewis Gordon on the other side of defence.

Supporting captain Coutts in the centre of the park is the ever reliable Sam Finley, who will protect the defence whilst also supporting the attack.

Man-of-the-match Harvey Saunders gets his second consecutive league start of the season with Antony Evans in the centre and top scorer Aaron Collins on the opposite flank.

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John Marquis - who opened his account on the weekend - continues to lead the line, hoping to add another to his tally.

Player-coach Whelan remains in the match-day squad and is on the bench, along with centre-back James Gibson, signed from Everton, as well as midfielder Jordan Rossiter.

Other subsittutes include Anssi Jaakkola, Alfie Kilgour, Ryan Loft and academy product Jerry Lawrence. There is no place however for utility man Josh Grant, who made a cameo appearance against the U’s.

For opponents Barnsley meanwhile they have started Luke Thomas against his former club, with the attacker expected to support the two strikers.

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Thomas played 32 times for the Gas last season, getting five assists and a goal, as one of the successful loanees that helped the club get promotion from League Two.

Former Bristol City defender Robbie Cundy is brought into the side too after being a substitute on the weekend, having endured a slow start to life in Yorkshire.

James Norwood, a summer target for Rovers, only starts from the substitute’s bench with Rovers hoping he won’t cause them any problems.

Bristol Rovers XI (4-2-3-1): James Belshaw; Harry Anderson, Luca Hoole, James Connolly, Lewis Gordon; Sam Finley, Paul Coutts; Harvey Saunders, Antony Evans, Aaron Collins; John Marquis.

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