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Andy Mangan on Joey Barton’s absence and Bristol Rovers’ response ahead of Sutton FA Cup clash


Andy Mangan has paid tribute to the response of Bristol Rovers’ players in the absence of manager Joey Barton.

Barton has not taken training at The Quarters this week as he stands trial at Sheffield Crown Court, where he denies assaulting former Barnsley manager Daniel Stendel after a game at Oakwell in 2019.

In his absence, first-team coaches Mangan and Kevin Bond have been in charge, with Barton – who is expected to be on the touchline – remaining in regular contact ahead of Saturday’s FA Cup second-round clash with Sutton United at the Mem.

“The lads have been superb,” Mangan said. “We’ve got an unbelievable group here, a really tight-knit group and they all want to do really well.

“A lot of them have moved away from their families and sacrificed watching their kids grow up to come here and play for Bristol Rovers and fight for this group. We’ve got an amazing group.

“I’ve been in constant contact with the gaffer all week. He’s really excited to watch us go against Sutton United tomorrow. He knows how important it is. We’re in a good spot.”

Rovers enter a new month after a frustrating November, where performances on the whole improved with only one League Two win in four games the reward.

Commanding positions against Salford City and Tranmere Rovers were ceded before a convincing 2-0 defeat at league leaders Forest Green last time out.

But Mangan feels consistency in results is “only around the corner.”

“Let’s say we got the win at Salford, which we more than deserved to get, and Tranmere, we’d be having a different conversation,” he added.

“We then go to Forest Green on Saturday and we maybe give it a better go.

“That’s where the group is at this moment. We are nearly there, we’re doing a lot better and I’m sure you and the fans can see.

“More than anything, the players and staff feel it. The players and staff feel it’s coming, so we’ve got to keep that consistency in the performance.

“It’s always about the performance and the performances have been much better. We’ve been having a lot more shots on target and we’ve been conceding less shots on our goal, which is always good.

“I’m sure the results, consistent results and consistent wins are only around the corner.”

The second-round tie was booked after Rovers’ remarkable comeback win in extra time over Oxford United last month.

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Sutton have been one of League Two’s surprise packages this season after winning the National League last term.

Matt Gray’s side sit sixth in the table with 32 points on the board, nine points clear of the Gas.

The teams meet again at the Mem on Boxing Day in the league, and Mangan is braced for a difficult game on Saturday.

“They’re quite compact and solid and they’ve done really well,” Mangan said.

“I don’t think they signed too many players in the summer, so they keep that momentum going and they’ve done really well.

“They play 4-4-2, really good going forward with two strikers who we’ve got to keep an eye on tomorrow, which we will, but it should be a good game.”

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