Joey Barton has provided an update to fans on five first-team players ahead of this weekend's visit to Exeter City.
Striker Josh Coburn joined Rovers on Deadline Day from Middlesbrough on a season-long loan deal but is yet to feature for the Gas due to a knee injury that he picked up in Boro's season opener against West Bromwich Albion. Joey Barton has said that he expects the young striker to be a useful addition to his squad:
"We spoke to him and he could have joined us this week, but he would have been short of game practice.
"We’ve had a chat with them and we thought it would be a good opportunity to get him some minutes. They hand him over to us knowing he’s done a full rehabilitation phase and he’s got some minutes.
"Fingers crossed, he gets through that with flying colours and joins up with the group next week. We’ll then assess him when he gets here and if he’s got 45 or 60 minutes in the tank, then it gives him the opportunity to come and impact our first team as soon as possible."
James Gibbons and Lewis Gibson
Joey Barton has said that defenders James Gibbons and Lewis Gibson are on the verge of returning from injury. The Rovers manager provided a positive update on the duo but admitted that Saturday's trip to Exeter City will come too soon for the pair. Tuesday's fixture against Crystal Palace U21s could be the more likely fixture for James and Lewis to get some much-needed minutes:
"We’ll see. They’ve obviously got bits of work to do. They’ve got the top end of the high-speed running to do on Saturday into Monday. If they come through that, they’ll be pushing to get some minutes in that game.
"We’ll have a call to make. If that game was next week, it would be perfect for them, so whether we get a full week of training into them with the group – and then we’ve got Swindon in a couple of weeks – and then it brings them into matchday contention.
"The beauty of that is they are coming back. For me, getting them back on the pitch and when I knit them together, I know we’re going to be a really good unit."
James' last appearance was against Portsmouth before picking up a stress fracture in his back which has ruled our number two out for all of our games since. Joey Barton has said that he is hopeful for good news when his centre-back meets with doctors next week to assess his injury:
"You’re going off a specialist," Barton said. "It was an old stress fracture that he had in his spine, so you’re waiting for the surgeon to give the OK. I think he’s due either Monday or Tuesday to get a thumbs up or a thumbs down to kick on to the next stage.
"If he gets that, he’ll be two or three weeks away, but he’s in the specialist's hands on that and we’re hoping for good news in the early part of next week. He feels OK and ready to kick on, but you’ve got to get the green light from the more intelligent people."
Josh has been limited to only one appearance for Rovers this season due to a persistent knee injury which also ruled him out of a number of games last season. Joey Barton says that he is eager to see our number four back in action:
"He had a little bit of tendonitis in the bottom side of his patella," Barton said. "He had it in one knee last year. He’s come back and got it in the other knee.
"Since I’ve been here, I think he’s had every injury and I’m hoping the scar tissue of all of them will strengthen him up. It’s frustrating for Josh because you all know the regard I hold him in firstly as a player and as a lad. I think he’s a superb kid and it must be so frustrating for him because there is a really good player in there.
"Unfortunately, he hasn’t had that consistent run of training, which leads to a consistent run of games. He hasn’t been able to show the world just what a good player he is. You’ve just got to keep believing one day that will change, with all the work he is doing and the effort he puts in.
"For us, getting Josh’s attributes into our group is so important because he can play four or five different positions and he also plays them at a high level because of the football acumen and IQ he has. It’s really frustrating. I wish I could give him some of my body parts that I don’t need anymore so he can go and fulfil his potential because he’s a superb player."