Former Bristol Rovers trio set for Wembley final as Premier League beckons

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Luton Town might be Bristol Rovers adopted club for the Championship play-off final

Three men previously involved with Bristol Rovers are just 90 minutes away from being employees of a Premier League club.

Luton Town reached the Championship play-off final last night after being Sunderland 2-0. Gabriel Osho - a one-time loanee at the Gas opened the scoring for the Hatters before academy graduate Tom Lockyer put them in front and there was no response from the Black Cats.

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Luton - who have the smallest ground in the Championship - and would require £10m of work to their Kenilworth Road ground if promoted - are now just a game away from England’s top elite. It’s been 31 years since they played in the top tier of English football, and if you rewind to 10 years ago, Luton were a non-league club which makes the story even more of a fairytale.

Middlesbrough and Coventry City are to play next - and whilst promotion to the Premier League for Michael Carrick’s side could increase the chance of Josh Coburn returning to the Memorial Stadium, Gasheads might be in the Luton camp on Sunday, May 27.

As mentioned, Luton have Lockyer whose heart is still with Rovers. The 28-year-old nearly made a sensational return to the Mem this summer, when he was struggling for game time. He was persuaded to stay by former boss Nathan Jones, and never looked back, starting 39 matches in total.

He was included in Wales’ first World Cup squad in 58 years, and whilst he never played just being in Qatar will have been an honour. Lockyer has a lot to owe to Rovers for giving him a home when he was released by Cardiff City, and he was keen to show his gratitude by promising them a shirt from the World Cup to hang around the place he once called home. He attended Rovers match this season against MK Dons, and spoke highly of Aaron Collins, who is hoping to join him as a Wales international.

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In total, Lockyer made 284 appearances for Rovers and scored three goals, and was part of the side that won back-to-back promotions. It’s funny in a way that a day before Rovers celebrate their eight-year anniversary of being back in the Football League after beating Grimsby Town on penalties, that Lockyer is close to a departure from the EFL and nearing a Premier League dream.

Lockyer isn’t the only former Rovers man that is Wembley bound with former loanee Osho also a part of Luton’s side. He joined Rovers on loan in January 2019 when Graham Coughlan took over from Darrell Clarke.

Osho never got to make a senior appearance for Rovers and made the bench just three times before being allowed to return to Reading. It was Lockyer and Tony Craig who were keeping Osho out at the time, but he has since found a home at Luton, often partnering the Welsh defender.

A third former Rovers representative is Paul Trollope, who is assistant coach to Rob Edwards. Edwards succeeded Nathan Jones in the winter, and has picked up from where he left off to guide Luton to a third-placed finish and a Wembley final.

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Trollope knows all too well about winning at Wembley, having led the club to victory over Shrewsbury Town in the League Two play-off final in 2007. Richard Walker scored a first-half brace and then Samuel Igoe scored a counter-attacking goal to secure the victory after Shrewsbury had piled bodies forward in search of an equaliser.

Trollope was given his start in management by Rovers in 2005 and he went on to be their manager for five years. He has since held coaching roles with Birmingham, Norwich and Wales, bfore a brief management stint at Cardiff City before reuniting with Chris Hughton at both Brighton and later Nottingham Forest.

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