The headlines about Bristol Rovers this week have focused on off-field matters, but on Saturday the Gas have the chance to put their name in the hat for a blockbuster FA Cup third-round tie.
After a week spent in court for the manager, Joey Barton, plus the news of a breakthrough in the club’s search for a new stadium, the visit of Sutton United in the second round of the cup has felt a secondary subject this week.
But all eyes will be on the pitch on Saturday as Rovers return to the Mem hopeful of making sure their heroics against Oxford United in the previous round count for more than just one memorable night for Gasheads.
Here is how Rovers could line up at the Mem on Saturday…
Which XI would you select for Saturday’s game? Let us know in the comments section below…
Goalkeeper and defence
With Rovers’ taking the competition seriously, there will be no debate on who starts in goal. James Belshaw will have the gloves, with Jed Ward providing cover from the bench.
With Alfie Kilgour and Josh Grant out injured, the defence will need reshuffling. The Gas are likely to start with a back three, with Connor Taylor and Cian Harries keeping their places in the centre and on the left respectively.
With Mark Hughes not yet fit to return from an Achilles injury, Luca Hoole could be in line for a start at right centre-back.
On the flanks, Harry Anderson should continue at right wing-back, with Trevor Clarke potentially coming back into the side for the first time since October after a full week of training to play on the left side.
Should Clarke make the starting XI, Nick Anderton may drop to the bench. Pablo Martinez could also be among the substitutes. Junior Brown remains sidelined with a thigh injury.
Rovers’ midfield three picks itself at the moment, and with a clear week of training since the Forest Green Rovers defeat, there seems little chance of the Gas making a change.
That means Paul Coutts, Glenn Whelan and Sam Finley should keep their places in the engine room as the Gas vie for control against a Sutton side that has impressed since promotion to League Two.
Zain Westbrooke, Luke Thomas and Ryan Jones are contenders for the bench.
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In attack, Rovers did not find much reward with Brett Pitman in the starting XI. He is undoubtedly the most natural scorer at Barton’s disposal, but more cohesive performances have come with him used as an impact option instead.
That could lead the manager to revert to the attacking duo of Antony Evans and Sam Nicholson. Nicholson is available after being rested against Forest Green as a precaution.
Pitman, Aaron Collins and Sion Spence are contenders for the bench. Harvey Saunders and Leon Clarke remain unavailable due to injury.
Rovers (3-5-2): Belshaw; Hoole, Taylor, Harries; Anderson, Finley, Coutts, Whelan, Clarke; Evans, Nicholson.