Joey Barton explains rationale behind starting new Bristol Rovers signing on bench

Lewis Gibson made his Bristol Rovers debut as a substitute - Joey Barton explains why he wasn’t thrown straight in to action

Lewis Gibson’s arrival has solved many problems. (Photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images)Lewis Gibson’s arrival has solved many problems. (Photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images)
Lewis Gibson’s arrival has solved many problems. (Photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images)

Joey Barton has explained why his decision as to why he didn’t give Lewis Gibson a start on his Bristol Rovers debut.

Gibson arrived at the Gas on a season-long loan from Everton on Friday morning and was a much-needed defensive reinforcement.

The 22-year-old joined in an area where rovers were short on with just two fully recognised senior centre-backs.

He had trained a day prior to the match against Oxford United but found himself only on the bench for the League One clash.

Luca Hoole however was preferred over him, holding down that role until Gibson’s arrival to the pitch in the 79th minute.

Speaking to the club’s official YouTube channel, he said: “I thought the lads had done well. I thought Hooley (Luca) has been superb at centre-half.

“Alfie I thought did well on Tuesday night. I thought for us it was trying to keep some continuity.

Gibson has had a bit of a disrupted season last year, we had to police all the guys through it.”

Another change saw Ryan Loft come out of the side as Rovers decided to pack the midfield to deal with Oxford’s quality.

Loft eventually entered the pitch, replacing goalscorer John Marquis, who was involved in a number of challenges with the opposition.

Meanwhile player-coach Glenn Whelan partnered Sam Finley in the centre of the park as the protectors of the defence, as well as the field of play to provide support to the attack.

Barton added: “It was unlucky on Lofty to come out but we felt that was a tactical move to get an extra body in the middle of the park because of Oxford’s qualities. We had a game plan that factored into the weather and the temperature.

“Sam Finley and the lads that are playing are still not at 100%. They are getting closer to it every day. That seventy minute shift from Sam today was outstanding.

“To have the captain back, Couttsy to have Jordan Rossiter back, Josh Grant coming in and Gibbo. I thought Lofty complimented a great shift from John Marquis.

“We maybe haven’t had the luxury of doing that in the past. Those substitutes the standard didn’t drop, the standard was maintained and they pushed on. It is why we got a good three points and a clean sheet.”