‘Imminently’ - Bristol Rovers coach provides transfer update on search for new centre-back

The Gas only have one recognised centre-back for the visit of Wycombe Wanderers
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Andy Mangan is not worried about Bristol Rovers’ lack of a recognised centre-back as work continues from the recruitment team to find defensive reinforcements.

James Connolly is the out-and-out centre half available to Joey Barton and his coaching staff this weekend after Bobby Thomas was recalled from his loan by Burnley. Rovers did not anticipate Thomas’ move transpiring to Barnsley so quickly and were left short after selling Alfie Kilgour to Mansfield Town last week.

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Head of football operations Eddy Jennings is working behind the scenes to find an option and Liverpool starlet Jarell Quansah who has been mentioned as a possible transfer target, was followed by club owner Wael al-Qadi though no deal is imminent.

In the absence of Thomas, Luca Hoole played on the right of Connolly, and summer signing James Gibbons was deployed on the left in the 2-0 defeat to Accrington Stanley. The combination of Gibbons-Connolly-Hoole is likely to continue against Wycombe Wanderers, though their experience as full-backs should bode well if Rovers persist with their three-at-the-back system.

“No not really,” responded assistant manager Mangan when asked if it was a worry about a lack of options ahead of Saturday’s clash with the Chairboys.

“It’s exciting really because someone else gets an opportunity. Gibbo played on the left-hand side and did really well. Luca has taken that on Saturday, obviously we’ve been beaten but I thought Luca had a really good game and had some good moments.

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"The back three if you’ve got Beefy in the middle of it anyway, the two lads on the outside of him are full-backs it is actually a perfect position for them.

"If we get players in that position they will come in and compete for what is a really important role in the way that we play. Hopefully, someone does come in and do that. The fact we’ve only got one fit recognised centre half is obviously an issue. I’m sure the recruitment team Eddy will be right on with that and we will have news imminently.”

On-loan Everton centre-back Lewis Gibson is one of the absentees in defence that has left Barton short of options this weekend. Gibson has not played since the New Year’s Day win against Cheltenham, in which he was substituted after complaining of a thigh injury.

Harry Anderson and Jordan Rossiter are the other players that have been missing, with both suffering several injury problems over the course of the season. Anderson had only returned to action recently after a foot injury but is sidelined once more. Rossiter suffered an injury in mid-December, and is expected to return at the end of the month once the transfer window has concluded.

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"They’re a little bit too far away," added Mangan. It would be wrong for us to put them in straight away without bedding them in with a couple of weeks of training and maybe an appearance off of the bench.

"We’ll go with what we’ve had in recent weeks. We’ve got more than enough to compete at this level we’ve just got to get everything right."

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