League Two promotion race: The injury problems affecting Bristol Rovers, Northampton and Tranmere

The race for promotion in League Two is rapidly approaching an exciting conclusion with more than half of the clubs in the division still in contention for a place in League One next season.

<p>Getting injured at this point of the season can be a huge blow to sides with the games up thick and fast. (Photo by Pete Norton/Getty Images)</p>

Getting injured at this point of the season can be a huge blow to sides with the games up thick and fast. (Photo by Pete Norton/Getty Images)

Forest Green Rovers currently lead the way and they are five points clear of second placed Exeter City, with Port Vale occupying the third and final automatic promotion spot.

Mansfield Town, Northampton Town, Brstol Rovers and Newport County are sat in the play-off place at present - but as many as four other clubs will feel they can secure a top seven spot before the end of the campaign.

The makeup of the promotion picture will change over the coming month with injuries to key players playing a significant role over the remainder of the season.

Bristol World takes a look at how Joey Barton’s Bristol Rovers and their promotion rivals are coping with injuries at the moment.

Forest Green Rovers

Injured Forest Green striker Matty Stevens. Photo: Pete Norton/Getty Images.

The current league leaders were dealt a major blow when top goalscorer Matty Stevens suffered a serious injury earlier this month.

The in-form striker was stretchered out of the 1-0 win against Scunthorpe United and is set for an extended spell on the sidelines after scan showed he had sustained an injury to his anterior cruciate ligament.

Rovers also confirmed Jamille Matt is currently subject to concussion protocols after he suffered a head injury in their weekend draw with Hartlepool United.

Exeter City

The Grecians confirmed the severity of an injury sustained by midfielder Kyle Taylor in last month’s 2-0 win at Oldham Athletic.

Manager Matt Taylor revealed the 22-year-old will be out for months after scans showed a serious injury to his knee ligaments.

Speaking just days after the injury, Taylor told the club website: “Unfortunately he has ruptured his cruciate knee ligament and damaged his medial knee ligament as well as both cartilages on either side, and also damage to the bone head," he said.

“He will undergo his surgery for the first time on Monday. The extent of that is unknown until the surgeon has had a look at it. Hopefully he will only have one operation, but he may require two, which would be to fix the cruciate knee ligament.”

Port Vale

Port Vale have already suffered one major injury blow this season after on-loan Newcastle United defender Lewis Cass was forced to cut short his temporary stay with the club by serious ankle injury.

Lewis Cass of Port Vale in action during the Sky Bet League Two match between Port Vale and Hartlepool United at Vale Park on November 27, 2021 in Burslem, England. (Photo by Morgan Harlow/Getty Images)

There was some good news for the Vale as January signing Chris Hussey returned from an injury to play the final half-hour of Saturday’s 3-2 win against Oldham Athletic.

Mansfield Town

The Stags are hoping for a quadruple injury boost over the coming days.

Kellan Gordon (knee), Jamie Murphy (hamstring), Rhys Oates (thigh) and Ollie Clarke (groin) all missed the 4-0 win at Scunthope United on Saturday - but could return for Friday’s home game with Sutton United.

Northampton Town

Shaun McWilliams.

There was an unexpected boost for the Cobblers at the weekend as Shaun McWilliams returned to their squad for their meeting with Bradford City at the weekend.

He had been expected to miss the remainder of the season after suffering a knee injury in last month’s 2-1 defeat at Carlisle United.

It was not all good news for Town as Paul Lewis looks to be out of action for the foreseeable future after suffering an injury in a tackle that saw him sent-off in the recent game against Mansfield Town.

Bristol Rovers

Josh Grant made a welcome return for Saturday’s visit to Tranmere Rovers and made an appearance as a second-half substitute in place of Trevor Clarke.

Joey Barton was also able to name Nick Anderton amongst his substitutes at Prenton Park and will hope Antony Evans will finalise his comeback over the coming weeks.

Newport County

The Exiles recently confirmed on-loan Coventry City defender Josh Pask is close to a return but will not be risked until he has proven his match fitness.

Brandon Cooper remains a long-term injury absentee.

Salford City

The Ammies were without Ash Eastham, Josh Morris and Conor McAleny for Saturday’s home win against Harrogate Town - but will hope to trio can return to boost their drive for a play-off place.

Tranmere Rovers

An illness ruled former Rangers man Josh McPake out of Saturday’s draw with Bristol Rovers but he is expected to return to contention for the Good Friday visit to Bradford City.

Tranmere Rovers will be without two of their regular first team players after their appeals were rejected. (Photo by Pete Norton/Getty Images)

Suspended duo Kieron Morris and Callum McDonald will also be available once again after serving their bans against Joey Barton’s men.

Sutton United

Joe Barden and Ali Smith returned to contention for Saturday’s narrow win against Leyton Orient - although only the latter was named in the matchday squad.

Will Randall missed that game with the leg injury he suffered in the U’s Papa Johns Trophy Final defeat against Rotherham United earlier this month.

Swindon Town

Swindon suffered a double injury blow on the weekend of last month’s 2-1 win against Bradford City after Joe Tomlinson and Brandon Cooper were ruled out “for the foreseeable future”.

Speaking at the time, head coach Ben Garner said: “Yeah, it’s not good news on Joe, it’s a fairly significant injury, unfortunately, it’ll be a period of weeks with him.

“Also worse news with Brandon Cooper, who’s suffered a knee injury as well, which is a significant injury, possibly the season for him.”