Manager Preview | Matt Taylor on Bolton Wanderers, Aaron Collins’ return and squad opportunities


Matt Taylor has challenged his Bristol Rovers squad to make the most of the opportunity in front of them when Bolton Wanderers visit The Memorial Stadium. 

Rovers welcome Wanderers to the South West on Saturday with the visitors looking to keep pace with Portsmouth and Derby County in Sky Bet League One, and push for automatic promotion to the Championship. 

For manager Taylor, the task the Trotters will pose is a fascinating one to meet, and the boss is keen for his team to build on their clean-sheet against Shrewsbury Town on Easter Monday. 

Taylor also discussed his squad, the chances players will get in the coming six matches, and the return to The Mem of Aaron Collins during his pre-match media obligations on Thursday…


Squad update

We could potentially have Jack Hunt back for the weekend. He had his first day back on the grass on Thursday in a team capacity. It is just whether we can push him towards the weekend’s game against Bolton or we wait until Tuesday, or the following weekend. But he looked bright and he looked well, which are always signs you look for when players are coming back into it on the back of individual work. It’s great to have him back and closer to availability. 

Kami Conteh could also be back. He’s refreshed and rebooted, and he looks in a good condition. It’s great to have a body like his back in the mix. Hopefully he’ll be back firing on all cylinders and he’ll strengthen the squad.



Shrewsbury reflections

We were disappointed not to take three points on Monday against Shrewsbury. 

We defended well enough to keep the clean-sheet but we just didn’t quite take the chances that fell our way. That is the last bit of the jigsaw for us. We’ve kept three clean-sheets in our last six games but, in the other games, we conceded ten goals, and we’ve failed to score for too long too. We’re trying to find the right balance and the intent of the team was much improved in Monday’s game. We have something to build from. 


Opportunities incoming

This is a big squad and there is an understanding that we need to give some lads some exposure. 

We want the lads who haven’t that exposure to get their opportunity on the pitch in the next six games. In that regard, there will be some changes. How we fit them all in will be difficult but I don’t want anyone to be able to say at the end of the season that they didn’t have a fair opportunity. This is a performance game and we’re all judged on our performances. 


Getting goals

We need to keep creating chances, and then take the next step of putting those chances into the back of the net. 

You wouldn’t want the chances on Monday that fell to Chris Martin to fall to anyone else. We have to keep putting the ball in the right areas and we can keep looking at different approaches, different scenarios and different set-ups, but it was difficult to break down a stubborn Shrewsbury team on Monday. The style will come on top of the substance. 




Aaron’s return

Aaron Collins is part of a very strong attacking group at Bolton Wanderers. In terms of the form he’s hit recently and the goals he’s scored, it’s great to see him doing well. He wants to challenge and reach Championship football, and we hope he is able to do that. 

This weekend won’t be about Aaron Collins though, it will be about two teams going at it for three points. 


Bettering Bolton

The lads beat Bolton away earlier in the season. The team played well and other things went our way, and looked a real threat. But we cannot sit in, soak up pressure, and just play on the counter-attack at home on Saturday.

We need to try to dictate the style of play a bit and it will be an interesting game because Bolton have quality all over the pitch. This is a game that requires very little in terms of preparation words, because the motivation is there to beat a team at the very top of this league.


Ward on the up

Jed Ward is acquitting himself well.  There is no pressure on him. He’s a young lad that has got to keep finding enjoyment in a pressured environment, which is first team football in the public eye. 

But I’ve been so pleased with Jed. He’s come into the team and he’s performed well. There will be inconsistencies in anyone’s game, let alone a young goalkeeper’s, but he’s been thrown in the deep end. In terms of his composure and actual skill set, it’s been a massive plus for this football club. 

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