Bristol Rovers are in EFL Trophy action on Wednesday night as they travel to Essex to face Colchester United at the JobServe Community Stadium. Both teams are four games away from a Wembley Stadium final.
The Gas finished second in their group after defeating both Crystal Palace’s Under-21’s and Swindon Town, whilst losing to Plymouth Argyle on penalties. Colchester won home advantage after beating Ben Garner’s Charlton Athletic, as well as Brighton’s Under-21’s.
Cheltenham Town, MK Dons, Plymouth Argyle, Stevenage, Chelsea’s Under-21’s, AFC Wimbledon and Portsmouth have already secured their place in Round Three after winning on Tuesday evening. The draw will take place on Thursday morning and Rovers will hope to be in the hat for the next stage, with fixtures due to take place in mid-December.
Rovers are firm favourites given Rovers are just below mid-table in League One whilst Colchester are in 22nd and are just outside the relegation zone on goal difference. Ahead of the match we take a look at what players won’t be available due to injury.
Bristol Rovers injury news
Ryan Loft has a ‘good chance’ of featuring for the Gas this evening, admitted Joey Barton in his pre-match press conference. He has been recovering from a hamstring injury and despite being touted for a return against Peterborough United, was not included in the match-day squad. Loft has been missing for four consecutive matches after being substituted in the 1-1 draw with Sheffield Wednesday at Hillsborough.
There are three Gas players that are guaranteed to miss out on tonight’s match. Josh Grant is out for the rest of the season after undergoing surgery on his knee. Grant is back walking around but has been described as a ‘long-way off’ by his manager.
Harry Anderson and Paul Coutts are two players that are sidelined for the foreseeable future. Anderson has a foot injury whilst club captain Coutts suffered an ankle injury which was picked up in a training session.
There is no specific time frame as to when Anderson would return but for Coutts, it was spoken about that he may not return until the New Year. Both players are back at the training ground and are stepping up their recovery, with Barton saying that both players are ‘not far away’ which would be a boost to their squad depth.
Rovers are unlikely to name a youthful side this evening given the lack of Under-21’s team. First-year professional Jerry Lawrence was loaned out to non-league outfit Salisbury and so it will be a rotational side against Colchester.
Colchester United injury news
Matt Bloomfield is in charge of Colchester after leaving Wycombe Wanderers to take his first goal in senior management. Samson Tovide, 18, scored his first goal of the campaign for Colchester and could start against the Gas.
There is a doubt however as to whether goalkeeper Sam Hornby will play a part. Horny played on through the pain barrier in their win over Doncaster Rovers but had to be carried off in what seemed to be an ankle injury which will be assessed for this evening’s clash.
Kwesi Appiah is sidelined after suffering a hamstring injury. He has returned to parent club Crawley Town after missing the last eight matches and has rehabilitated with the Red Devils.
Central defender Tom Dallison has missed the last three matches with a muscle injury and is unlikely to return. Colchester have had a spate of muscle injuries and Bloomfield admitted that they cannot take the risk.
Chay Cooper is a long-term absentee after suffering an ankle injury just a minute into the season that has kept him out since the start of July. Experienced midfielder Cole Skuse, who played for Bristol City has been absent for the last four matches and is unlikely to play a part. John Akinde is another after missing the last two matches.
Wales international midfielder Emyr Huws could be in line for a start after coming off the bench last weekend. He had ruptured his ankle ligaments in the summer but his return is a welcome boost for the opposition.