There is both good news and bad news in terms of selection ahead of Saturday’s FA Cup clash with Sheffield United.
Loan players Tom Eaves and Matt Lund have been cleared to play in the match, but goalkeeper Neil Etheridge will not be allowed to play a part.
And as we reported yesterday Tom Parkes will miss the match following an additional match suspension in light of comments he made to the referee following his dismissal against AFC Wimbledon.
Manager Mark McGhee said: “The significant thing for me this week is Tom Parkes’ suspension, it is a huge disappointment that he misses this FA Cup game.
“I think Tom is learning how important he is to the team, so I don’t have any fears about this happening again.
“Tom Eaves and Matt Lund are available, but Neil Etherigde isn’t. That is a huge blow, but saying that we have a goalkeeper here who we have a lot of hope for and a lot of faith in.
“He has worked really hard and we think he has got over his initial disappointment at being left out and is now ready to go back in and show people what a good goalkeeper he is. We are lucky to have Sam Walker here.
“Tom is getting better and better with training every day and games. He will get goals, and hopefully he will get his first goal in the FA Cup.”
And the manager could soon have other options with Danny Woodards just a few weeks away and Shaquille Hunter back in competitive action for the U18s – although the youngster still has to prove himself at the next level.
Mark said: “It will still be a couple of weeks for Danny. He has trained with us now for a couple of weeks and the temptation is to stick him on the bench, but he has not played a game yet so I am going to resist that temptation and make sure Danny is 100% right before he comes back.
“Shaquille Hunter is a young lad, who when he got injured, was being introduced to the professional game.
“He still has a lot to prove that he has anything to contribute; we think he will and we think it will be in the shorter term rather than the long term, but we cannot count on him to make any contribution, we just have to hope he makes a contribution.”
The manager has good memories of the FA Cup, getting to the semi final.
He said: “The best I have ever done as a manager is the semi-final where we were beaten 1-0 at Wolves by Arsenal.
“I never really spent a lot of time playing in the FA Cup in England. I won the Scottish FA Cup five times with Celtic and Aberdeen.
“I love the FA Cup and I am really looking forward to this game. It is a massive game for us, against a team who are unbeaten.
“They are strong and physical but they have a very good way of playing and a good work ethic. They will be really difficult opponents for us and a big test for our young players.”
And although Rovers will go into the game as under dogs, Mark knows that the supporters will still be expecting a good performance.
He said: “We don’t care about pressure from outside the club, the only pressure we care about is pressure from within the club and I think our supporters will expect us to turn up and treat it as something different.
“As a manager I have got to somehow spark a different reaction from your normal league game; this is a competition where there are giant killings.
“I want to try and make sure on Saturday night when they are talking about the giant killings they are talking about us.”
For the full interview visit Gas Player