The potential Stoke City transfer which will come as a relief to Bristol Rovers fans as loanee set to stay

Stoke’s first move into the transfer market could spell good news for Bristol Rovers as they hope to keep hold of one of their key players

<p>Connor Taylor has showed a level of performance beyond his youthful years in League Two this season.  (Photo by Alex Burstow/Getty Images)</p>

Connor Taylor has showed a level of performance beyond his youthful years in League Two this season. (Photo by Alex Burstow/Getty Images)

Stoke City are poised to make the signing of Manchester City defender Taylor Harwood-Bellis and that will come as welcome news for Bristol Rovers fans.

You may ask how does this affects Bristol Rovers? Well Harwood-Bellis is a central defender and joining the Potters means that they have improved in an area in which they have lent a player to Joey Barton.

Connor Taylor, who has been a key part of the Rovers defence is on a season-long loan at the Memorial Stadium.

But there had been some questions about whether he would see the season out with the Gas given the current COVID-19 situation

Back in September, Stoke boss Michael O’Neill was asked about the possibility of recalling the defender as Championship clubs considered increasing their squad size to combat any possible postponements because of a Covid outbreak.

Asked by the Stoke Sentinel in mid December, the former Northern Ireland boss said: “Connor has played a lot of football. He’s injured at the minute but he’s played the most of the players who are out on loan and we’ll just monitor those situations.

“Ideally if you are bringing them back, you’re bringing them back because they will affect the team and get minutes. We have to weigh that up against their development and leaving them where they are at this minute as well.”

The 20-year-old has made a lasting impression on both the staff and fans at Bristol Rovers, earning rave reviews as he adapts well to life at senior level football after loans in the non-league with Ashton United and Chester.

Taylor won the EFL Young Player of the Month award back in October, which has previously been won by the likes of Harry Maguire, Jude Bellingham and Wilfried Zaha.

Playing in a back three playing mainly alongside Alfie Kilgour and Cian Harries, he is one player that they can’t do without with his 23 appearances across all competitions this season an indication of that.

He is currently injured but is hopeful of a return to action later this month with the injury list slowly being winded down as players get back on the grass.

It is understood that calling Taylor back to the Bet365 Stadium was always going to be a last resort option but at least this offers some assurance moving forward.

An injury crisis at centre-back as well as Mark Hughes departure meant a defender was needed this window. (Photo by Pete Norton/Getty Images)

In a bid to boost the squad size, Rovers have also signed James Connolly on loan until the rest of the season from Cardiff City, which adds more depth to an area they had been struggling with for the last two months.

Connolly was signed on Saturday and quickly made his debut in the 2-1 defeat to Peterborough United at London Road in the third round of the Emirates FA Cup.

He was a player that was tracked by Rovers in the summer after coming through the academy of Blackburn. Before moving to South Wales, he played regularly in the Lancashire side's under-23's team but was released by the Ewood Park club in the summer.

After being signed by Steve Morison, who has since gone on to become head coach of the first-team, he was given the captains armband of a side currently top of their division.

They had to recruit a defender after they allowed Mark Hughes to join the coaching staff of Plymouth Argyle with no compensation fee agreed.