Stoke City make transfer decision that could spell bad news for Bristol Rovers plans

As the summer goes on, it is becoming less likely that Connor Taylor will return to Bristol Rovers
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Stoke City have made the decision to sell centre-back Will Forrester to Port Vale which could mean spell news for Bristol Rovers.

The Gas have been waiting this summer on whether Stoke may consider loaning out Connor Taylor but the sale of one of his teammates could spell an end to Rovers’ plans.

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Forrester has been sold to Port Vale, managed by Darrell Clarke, who this week has brought in Gavin Massey and Derek Agyakwa as the League Two play-off winners try and strengthen

It not only strengthens a League One rival but also means that the Rovers recruitment team may have to look elsewhere for a centre-back target.

Forrester has joined Darrell Clarke’s Valiants on a permanent transfer, making him the first player to directly join from Stoke in 44 years.

His time at the bet365 Stadium was hampered by ankle injuries and then a loan at Mansfield Town was ended.

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Forrester was seemingly ahead of Taylor in the pecking order having made four Championship appearances in total for the Staffordshire club.

But now Taylor could be set for a more prominent role with Stoke this season, which may mean Rovers have to look elsewhere for a new centre-back, a department they are short on numbers on.

After missing out on a return to the Memorial Stadium which saw Joey Barton’s side claim a 2-0 scalp over Stoke, Taylor featured for the entirety of Stoke’s 2-1 defeat to Scottish Premiership club Hearts.

He has played in a majority of their pre-season schedule with the match against Rovers the only game he didn’t play any minutes in. Stoke also rewarded him with a new long-term

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Stoke have already brought in experienced Championship centre-backs Aden Flint and Phil Jagielka, whilst recruiting Harry Clarke on loan from Arsenal.

Harry Souttar, who played under Joey Barton at Fleetwood Town is also on their books and against Rovers they played three-centre backs, which means more cover will be needed.

A move for former Bristol City man Alfie Mawson, who is a free agent after leaving Fulham has also been considered.

Meanwhile for Rovers, they are entering the season with just one fully recognised centre half in James Connolly, who was signed for a six figure fee.

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Alfie Kilgour did not play against Stoke in their final pre-season match whilst Nick Anderton has also been sidelined, though he is predominantly a left-back.

Instead, Barton is considering playing Luca Hoole - a right-back by trade - in the role, and believes that is his long-term position.

The Wales Under-21 defender played there against Stoke and kept a clean sheet against the likes of Jacob Brown and Tyrese Campbell, who have scored plenty of goals in the Championship.

Barton said: "I do think it’s his long-term position. If it’s this season, I’m not sure, but I think he will ultimately become a really good centre-back.

“Whether we use him as a centre-back in a three or a four, I’m not sure yet, but he’s got better through each game.”

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