Sam Finley and Trevor Clarke absence explained as Bristol Rovers dealt big blow

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There were two notable absentees when Joey Barton named the Bristol Rovers team

Bristol Rovers could be without Trevor Clarke for months after he sustained an injury that could keep him sidelined for a lengthy period. Clarke along with vice-captain Sam Finley were the two notable absentees when the team was announced against Port Vale.

The 24-year-old started his ninth game of the League One campaign last week, playing over an hour against Bolton after forcing his way back into the side. At one point he looked like he might depart after being allowed to leave in the summer, but he remained, forcing his way into the managers’ plans, but now he has been dealt a setback.

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Rovers had Josh Grant as their only long-term absentee, having undergone two surgeries for a knee problem, but now he is joined in the treatment room by Clarke. Despite being available for selection, Harry Anderson was not named in the squad, whilst Ryan Loft missed has missed his second consecutive match.

"They are obviously both injured," said first-team manager Barton in his pre-match interview with BBC Radio Bristol when asked about the absence of Clarke and Finley. Trev has had a bit of a setback and it looks like he is going to miss a couple of months which is a blow for him after starting last time out.

"He just picked it up in training, I am gutted for him, he is a top kid but he’s going to be out for a long period. I think it is to do with his groin and it looks a bit nasty. It’s projected months rather than weeks so it’s not the best news."

Finley this season has been an important cog in the midfield, and in the absence of Paul Coutts has taken up the captaincy. The 30-year-old did pick up his fifth yellow card of the campaign but that was after the cut-off and so his absence is also down to an injury.

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Coutts returned from an ankle injury after a month’s lay-off and started in the place of Finley, and that could be the same again against MK Dons in the EFL Trophy on Tuesday.

Barton said: "Sam is a bit better news albeit he’s missed a game through injury. He’s got a tight calf, I don’t know whether he picked it up in the Bolton game but it hasn’t progressed or settled down.

"We’re hoping he may be available for next weekend’s fixture but certainly today’s game and possibly Tuesday has come too soon for him."

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