Bristol news Martinez, Walker and the dilemmas facing Barton for Northampton clash PremierLeague-News.Com
PremierLeague-News.Com - Joey Barton's resources are set to be replenished for Bristol Rovers' trip to Northampton Town on Saturday, but that in turn has created several selection conundrums
PremierLeague-News.Com - Breaking Sport Transfer News ! With Bristol Rovers’ biggest game of the season looming, Joey Barton has several tactical dilemmas to unravel ahead of the trip to Northampton Town. Barton, after drawing criticism for Rovers’ setup at Ipswich Town on Good Friday, got his plan spot on for Monday’s vital victory over Doncaster Rovers. Ahead of the high-stakes relegation battle at Sixfields on Saturday, the Gas boss has to decide whether to reward the player who earned him a much-needed win on Easter Monday or to immediately turn back to first-team regulars who are returning from injury. In the wake of the 2-1 win over Donny at the Mem, Barton revealed Rovers were set for a triple injury boost with Alex Rodman, Alfie Kilgour and Josh Grant potentially available for Saturday’s game. Of course that is a nice problem for Barton to have, but with so much on the line on Saturday – Northampton sit two points clear of Rovers in the relegation zone – his increased range of options means there is pressure on the manager to strike the right balance. Read More Related Articles EFL boss sets date for return of full crowds for Bristol City and Bristol Rovers Read More Related Articles McCormick becomes the talisman but return of one man has restored Bristol Rovers' character Walker vs Rodman Alex Rodman’s absence with a muscle injury has undoubtedly had a detrimental impact on Rovers’ fortunes. In the six games he has missed with a muscle injury, Rovers accumulated just three points and sorely missed Rodman’s blend of experience and quality, which had been telling in both boxes in Barton’s early wins over Shrewsbury Town and Accrington Stanley. But his absence brought fresh opportunities, and Zain Walker has taken his with both hands, starting the last three games and showing more than enough ability and courage to merit a place in the Rovers’ core first-team group. However, through no fault of his own, it may be the right time for Walker to be taken out of the firing line, provided Rodman is fit to start in the vital right wing-back role which is a prominent source of creativity. Zain Walker on the attack for Bristol Rovers Common convention suggests the best way to manage a young player is to ease them in and out of the team, and Walker could be an interesting option off the bench if Rovers need a spark at Sixfields. With how much is on the line, Rodman’s nous and proven creative ability could be a game-changer, and he should get the nod if he is fit enough to start. Midfield options Like Walker, Pablo Martinez is another youngster who has impressed amid trying circumstances over the past few weeks. Since making his debut against Sunderland late last month, Martinez has not missed a minute of action and tenacious yet poised displays in midfield have caught the eye. WhoScored rates him as Rovers’ second best player this season with an average match rating of 6.84 only bettered by Luke Leahy.
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Josh Grant of Bristol Rovers is challenged by Charlie Wyke of Sunderland - Mandatory by-line: Ryan Hiscott/JMP - 27/03/2021 - FOOTBALL - Memorial Stadium - Bristol, England - Bristol Rovers v Sunderland - Sky Bet League One
But he too could be taken out of the team on Saturday, with Grant set to be available after a foot injury. With Luke McCormick and Zain Westbrooke notching two goals and two assists respectively on Monday, both are nailed on to start at Northampton, leaving Martinez, Grant and Ed Upson vying for two spots – presuming Barton continues with the 3-5-1-1 system that worked well against Doncaster. And it’s a tough call for Barton. Martinez has done nothing wrong, but Grant has been a vastly-improved player since the manager’s arrival and he has the ability to execute Barton’s desire of “locking in” and playing in the opposition half by taking aggressive positions to help Rovers sustain attacks. Upson, meanwhile, is the veteran option and Barton has leaned on his experience in the middle of the park of late. All three contenders will feel they are worthy of a starting place, provided Grant comes through training unscathed, and Barton has some decisions to make.
Cian Harries challenges Taylor Richards of Doncaster
Harries climbs the pecking order? Alfie Kilgour played every game since Barton’s appointment, until he limped off against Sunderland on March 27 with an ankle injury, and winning his starting spot in defence quickly could be an uphill task. Cian Harries, off the back of one training session following a month-long absence with a groin injury, came into the starting XI and did not waste his opportunity, showing his poise on the ball and eagerness to crunch into tackles.
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Being a natural left-footer, he also brought balance to the back three, with Jack Baldwin anchoring the defence in the middle and George Williams comfortable on the right. Kilgour remains highly rated by his manager, but after such a dogged display which delivered a first win in seven games, Barton may be hesitant to change his defensive formula. The 22-year-old may have a watching brief – from the start at least – against the Cobblers.
Source = PremierLeague-News.Com