Friday, August 10, 2012

Final Friendly: Rovers vs Coventry

Tomorrow afternoon sees Rovers embark on their first home game of pre-season... and their last. After a number of away matches with local sides we welcome League One side Coventry City to the Memorial stadium in our final warm-up before competitive action kicks off with Ipswich Town on Tuesday in the Capital One Cup.

Mark McGhee is likely to name a starting eleven that has the strongest chance of beginning the game at Portman Road next midweek although Rogvi Baldvinsson and Eliot Richards are likely to feature despite the fact they will be on international duty next week. Whilst usually it would be a huge compliment for the club to have players playing for their country it leaves McGhee with something of a selection headache when compiled with the number of players who are also nursing injuries.

New signings could be made before then to ease the problem but it certainly doesn't make life easy so close to the beginning of the season. Fortunately Matt Gill and Matt Lund, who have missed recent friendlies, were able to play significant parts in the match vs Gloucester and should be available for selection tomorrow. A trialist or two may also feature in the game, with a goalkeeper obviously a top priority. We're still thought to be interested in Iain Turner but it is being speculated that a new transfer target could play in-between the sticks and attempt to earn themselves a contract with us. A couple of other players have emerged as possible signings for us in recent days but nothing has been confirmed and we are still waiting on Oxford to respond to our most recent offer for James Constable. They could continue to make life difficult for Rovers ahead of our league opener with them next Saturday but it is thought Rovers want a quick resolution to the deal and will push matters over the weekend.

David Clarkson

This is the final opportunity for players to impress and will hand further game time to players like David Clarkson, who is still attempting to recover fitness levels following injury last season. The back four and midfield starters will be interesting to note as nobody is quite sure how we'll line up. My prediction is that our starting eleven tomorrow will be something along the lines of:

GK: Trialist
RB: Smith  CB: Virgo  CB: Baldvinsson  LB: Paterson
RM: Lund  CM: Norburn  CM: Gill  LM: Broghammer
ST: Harrold  ST: Clarkson

Most members of the squad are likely to feature at some point in the game to give supporters a taster of what they can expect in the coming months. It's something of a dress-rehearsal for when we play higher league opposition in a few days time and should give us a good indication of how we will fare although it's important we don't read too much in to the result. It'll be one of the first times McGhee will field what he feels is his current strongest eleven and, hopefully, will offer encouragement to supporters who have been underwhelmed with our results so far this summer.

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