Joey Barton maps out Bristol Rovers and Middlesbrough plan for deadline-day signing

Josh Coburn is nearing a first appearance for Bristol Rovers - but has remained in Middlesbrough for the time being.

Josh Coburn should link up with his Bristol Rovers teammates next week, reveals manager Joey Barton.

Coburn has been rehabilitating at his parent club Middlesbrough from a knee injury suffered in the early part of the Championship season.

The 19-year-old forward joined the Gas on deadline day but has yet to link up with his new club because of his spell on the sidelines.

He could now be set to make his debut in the not too distant future which would be a major boost as he searches for the formula to get his side out of the rot they find themselves in.

Plans have now emerged as to how the striker will be managed as he closes in on a full-return to fitness.

Coburn will first make an appearance for Boro’s Under-21’s against Barton’s former club Newcastle on Friday evening.

“He’s going to play for Middlesbrough, he could have joined us this week but he could have been short of game practice.” revealed Barton.

“Middlesbrough are playing Newcastle in the U23’s, we’ve had a chat with them. We thought it’d be a good opportunity to get him some minutes.

“They hand him over to us knowing he’s done a full rehabilitation phase and got some business. Fingers crossed he gets through that with flying colours and joins up with the group next week.

“We’ll assess him when he gets here and obviously if he’s got 45/60 minutes in the tank, it then gives him a chance to come in and start to impact our first-team as soon as possible.”

Should he come through unscathed through that fixture, it would please their medical team, and he could be sent down South where he could make his first Rovers appearance.

A first outing next Tuesday in their group stage match with Crystal Palace’s Under-21’s had been considered.

He added: “We would have taken him but where are we going to get the minutes for him? We would probably have to play him Tuesday night. It’s a senior game albeit against Palace’s Under-21’s.

“We’re going, is that a little bit too big of a spike? If he gets 45-60 minutes for their U21’s, Josh will have a bit of confidence in his body.

“Their medical staff are confident at handing him over and hopefully he can come in and hit the ground running.”

The in-form Aaron Collins has led the way for Rovers’ attack this season with six goals and three assists, which has proved he deserved his new long-term contract.

Ryan Loft has closely followed him with four goals in ten matches across all competitions, but other players are battling for places.

Summer signing John Marquis has hit the back of the net once, scoring in the 1-0 win over Oxford United - the last time Rovers tasted a victory.

Marquis however has had to settle for a place on the bench in recent weeks, as Barton searches for a system that can compliment both the defence and attacking side.

Coburn, a six-foot three striker by trade, is in the similar mould as Loft, but should he arrive shortly, it could mean a system that accommodates two strikers.

Defence however remains an issue, having conceded the second most goals in the division, after a heavy defeat at Barnsley, as well as shipping six goals at home to Lincoln City.

“What people are missing is that he will be a real player for us, he’s a proper player,” Barton stated about the player who could hold a big role once he appears in Almondsbury.

“He will come in and it’ll be like getting a new signing in albeit after the window has closed.

“You look at Lofty, John Marquis and Aaron Collins. Harvey Saunders has fallen down the pecking order. We’ll probably flip the front side of the team.

He added: “If Josh comes in and John Marquis gets away, we’ll want to play front twos. The difficulty at this moment in time, we’re trying to find a shape and formula that works for the whole team.

“We went back to a little bit of a different structure Saturday with a 3-5-2, it didn’t have anywhere near that purchase.

“For us, we want to service the front side of our team. It’s horrible because we want to play but it might mean we have to sacrifice some of the more adventurous passing in the bottom side of the team in the short-term to get the front side of the team firing.”