How Bristol Rovers could line-up against Barnsley as Everton defender pushing for full-debut
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The Gas have started better than the recently relegated outfit with three more points on the board than their opponents.
In a season with only three games in, Rovers are 16 places higher than Michael Duff’s men, though things can change dramatically given it’s the early stage of the competition.
Tonight will be a test for Joey Barton and his side who are operating on a small squad and so there will be some key decisions to be made on team selection.
Here is how we think the Gas will line up at Oakwell under the floodlights this evening.
GK: James Belshaw
His place in the side is all but secure every single game as he is a Barton signing and a modern-day keeper, showing confidence when the ball comes to his feet.
RB: Harry Anderson
Against Oxford, Anderson was deployed as a right-back and did a good job at it, completely nullifying their attackers.
He was BristolWorld’s man-of-the-match last Saturday and he could be seen in defence again as he tries to keep up with
CB: Luca Hoole
Hoole delivered a good performance against Oxford but was perhaps a surprise inclusion at centre-back given the arrival of Lewis Gibson from Everton.
Starting Hoole at centre-back would likely mean Gibson starts on the bench but that is fine for the time being as he undergoes a few more training sessions.
CB: James Connolly
Before the arrival of Gibson, he along with Alfie Kilgour were one of the only recognised centre-backs.
Put in a good shift on Saturday and was able to cope with the balls being floated in by Oxford.
LB: Lewis Gordon
The return of Josh Grant is a welcome one as he can fill in numerous areas but for the time being, Gordon is first-choice at left-back.
Gordon has two clean sheets in his first three matches and showed some attacking intent on Saturday.
Grant will be a worthy competitor for him but firstly he needs to build up some fitness and then there will be a battle.
CM: Sam Finley
Finley is so important in this system for Rovers as he makes the team tick. He was playing some sublime passes on Saturday and was heavily involved in John Marquis’ goal.
As well as passing, he’s a physical presence in the centre of the park. At the moment, he’s having to come off around the hour or 70th minute mark but starting the game is a must.
CM: Paul Coutts
Glenn Whelan started against Oxford on Saturday with Coutts making a welcomed return in the second-half.
Whelan has kept himself in good condition after his release but it may be a position where Rovers alternate this game to freshen things up.
Coutts’ involvement would also mean that Jordan Rossiter starts on the bench but time should be allowed for the former Liverpool youngster to recover from his injury.
RM: Harvey Saunders
Saunders put in a workmans like display on Saturday and earned the plaudits for it, winning the man-of-the-match inside the ground.
He had a good pre-season and is getting his opportunity now. Tonight’s display will have to be a more defensive minded one, providing cover for Anderson.
CM: Antony Evans
As the search goes on for a new attacking midfielder to provide competition for Evans, this leaves him as the only option to play in this role.
Evans’ didn’t have a major impact on the last game but is still important part of the team when attacking.
LM: Aaron Collins
Saturday’s game was the first league game that Collins didn’t find the back of the net after striking in their opening two games.
Collins however did have a few opportunities and was able to supply Marquis with the ball for the goal.
He has a significant role to play in the team and is also versatile should Rovers want to change shape.
ST: John Marquis
Now Marquis is off the mark, this should hopefully spark a goalscoring run. His odds have gone up to be League One top scorer, rising to fourth which shows that outsiders rate him.
Tonight’s match will be an interesting one as James Norwood was a reported target this summer, so it’s a chance to see what Rovers got and what they could have had.