Bristol Rovers star suffers season-ending injury and may have played last game for club

It’s a case of the walking wounded for Bristol Rovers as injury, illness and suspensions pile up for the Gas.
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Bristol Rovers could be without club captain Paul Coutts for a prolonged period after Joey Barton said surgery may be needed to treat his knee injury he sustained earlier this month.

Coutts has been absent for the last fortnight after picking up a knee problem in training, which has ruled him out of three matches. He was due to play against Barnsley, but an eleventh hour change to the side saw him replaced by Luke McCormick, and he has not featured in a match day squad since.

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An initial prognosis meant that the 34-year-old was only looking for a short spell out of the side, and there was a hope he would return a week after picking up the injury, but it has since turned out to be a bit more serious. Surgery could mean that he misses a large chunk of the end-of-season run in with 10 games remaining.

Coutts has contended with multiple injuries this season with an ankle problem keeping him out for almost two months. He has played 25 games in all competitions this season and 19 of those have been starts. He signed a one-year contract extension in 202, and that is up for renewal this summer with a key decision to be made for a player that turns 35 in July.

“Couttsy is possibly going to require surgery,” revealed Barton when assessing the current injury situation. It might be the last time anyone sees Couttsy. It could be tricky for him now to get back to full fitness.

“We’ll know a bit more. He’s going to a specialist with his knee. It’s looking like he’s really aggrevated his knee. The initial consulation with the MRI and the surgeon is this might be one injury to far for him.

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“He’s kind of approaching that stage of his career anyway. He’s kind of defied his medicals for as long as he’s worked with me at Fleetwood and here he has defied what the medical reports would suggest and he’s played more games.

“Father time catches up with every body, this knee injury that he has got is on his good knee. We haven’t had the bad knee scanned but Couttsy will have to be taking pain killers just to train and play. You can imagine over four-five-six years of doing that the toll it takes on you physically and your mental health.

He added: “There’s a thereshold that is crossed and I think Couttsy is either sitting on top of that or is about to go over it. He’s somebody who has been a brilliant captain and player for me. I think he’ll be a great coach and a good addition to the coaching group. He has got life after football, but hopefully he can get some more minutes but it’s getting highly unlikely.”

Vice-captain Finley has missed the last two matches through illness, and Luca Hoole had a similar issue which ruled him out of the defeat to Wycombe Wanderers on Tuesday night. Hoole is on the road to recovery and will be closely monitored for this weekend’s clash with Portsmouth. Finley has suffered a set back, and with Jordan Rossiter already out for the rest of the campaign, central midfield numbers are low.

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Harry Anderson meanwhile is sidelined until after the international break after going under the knife for a groin problem, but Josh Grant is stepping up his recovery from a knee problem. Rovers will have to do without right-back James Gibbons, who serves the second of his two-game ban after he was charged for improper conduct by the English FA earlier this week.

He added: “Sam was in this morning and still wasn’t well, so he has been sent home. Hooley looked a bit better this morning, the worst of that virus has passed with him but we’ll have to monitor him in the next 24 hours to see what his energy levels are like. We thought Sam might have a chance this weekend but he’s been ill again. It’s a bit of a setback.

“We’ve still got enough players in there to fill the jerseys. Luke McCormick and Antony Evans are desperate to get back in to show what they can do. One man’s misfortune is another man’s opportunity.”

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