Match Preview: Matt Taylor on Port Vale, Darren Moore and injury news


Matt Taylor is looking for a strong base and improvements across the pitch when Bristol Rovers make the trip to Port Vale.

After nearly two weeks without a fixture due to the March international break, Rovers will play twice in four days over the Easter weekend, starting with a trip up to Vale Park to face Darren Moore’s side.

With the home match against Reading postponed due to international call-ups, manager Taylor and his squad have been hard at work at The Quarters training facility, looking to right the wrongs from the disappointing away loss to Lincoln City.

Speaking to the gathered media in his pre-match interview on Wednesday, Taylor acknowledged his squad were capable of much more than the loss to the Imps showed, and feels there is plenty to play for between now and the conclusion of the 2023/24 campaign; top of the list being personal pride.

Not that Port Vale will be an easy challenge for the Gas, with Moore’s men picking up their first league win in 2024 last time out with a 1-0 victory at Burton Albion; a result that gives the side a fighting chance of avoiding relegation from Sky Bet League One.

The boss also offered a comprehensive overview of his squad’s current status, including an update on those players currently out injured…


Lincoln City reflections

The scoreline and the manner of the Lincoln City defeat was painful. We had to digest that and then watched it back in the cold light of day, and we had a similar perspective of it, to be honest.

Watching it back, the score could have been 10-5, but the goals against us were obviously my biggest concern. In some moments of the game we defended very naively. We can talk about how well Lincoln did, or Joe Taylor getting his hat-trick, but I know this group can be more capable in those moments.




Building a strong base

The foundation for any team, at any level of football, is a strong base. We’re working towards that and want the players to value that.

As manager, my opinion is that, any game at any level comes down to the bare essentials and fundamentals of football. On top of that, working hard and fitness. I believe in substance first and then style comes with that.


Intent to succeed

Some people might say there is not much left to play for, but I think it’s the opposite.

If players are going to represent the Club, whether that’s in game or in training, then they need to do it with the right intent for the situation.

For me, it’s all about intent and I live my life by intent. It’s a two-way investment in a relationship. I will personally give everything I’ve got until the last moment to each player. They’re all needed at this moment in time and I will give them everything.


Preparing for Port Vale

We’re looking for points, pride and performances. I was at Port Vale’s game against Burton and I’ve got an idea of what they are fighting for and what they’re moving towards.

This game will provide some challenges for us, but this is what the competition is. It’s a fantastic opportunity to put some points on the board. It’s a huge game. It’s a big weekend for everyone in the league. We want to attack the game and I’m hoping I’m talking about a much better performance after the game.

I’ve met Darren Moore before and he’s a top guy. We’ve had a few connections in the past and played against his teams a few times. He’s conducted himself so well which isn’t always an easy thing when you’re involved in football, let alone when you’re a manager, so he’s an inspiration in that regard. He’ll be getting that Port Vale team going and ready, and their confidence levels will be on the rise.




Team news

In terms of our injured players, there is not much to update. In terms of our internationals, Brandon Aguilera gets back late on Thursday so we’ve got to get him to Port Vale, depending on how he’s feeling after playing against Argentina. Luca Hoole should be back with us, and Jed Ward and Matt Cox should be back with us too.

Elkan Baggott didn’t go away on international duty, due to a calf problem he’s got. But from the list of players not available that we had going into the international break, I don’t think anyone is immediately back.

Grant Ward has got over the issue that kept him out of the Lincoln game. He’s had a couple of days training. Whatever it was, we hope it’s settled down. It was a bit of a kick in the gut because he’s returned and we’re all excited, and then he missed out at Lincoln.

Luke McCormick is back in full training and Luke Thomas had his first day out there with us today [Wednesday].

Jack Hunt is not yet back training. He is still with the medical guys, but that won’t be too long. It does show you the timeline involved since Leyton Orient away at the start of the month. He’ll need a little time to build himself back up.


Jordan Rossiter update

Jordan Rossiter is training with the group every single day. There is no rush with him. It’s fantastic that he’s on the grass with us. He’s building himself up, and he’s been out for so long. He’s getting better every single day. Will we see him on the pitch in a game before the end of the season? I honestly don’t know at this stage. He will need a run-out in some form of an eleven v eleven format beforehand, but there is not much time between now and the end of the season.

What I will say is what a guy to work with he is. He values the right things in football and he’s been sorely missed on the pitch. It’s been great to have him back out there and I’m delighted to work with him out there.

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