The Easter weekend is here and that means a packed fixture list for sides, with Bristol Rovers heading to Ipswich Town on Good Friday before facing Doncaster on Easter Monday.
Rovers head into the game looking to bounce back from four defeats in a row and build some momentum heading into the run in.
The Gas’ winless run has seen them drop to 23rd in the table and positive results over the weekend are needed if they want to mount a challenge to stay in the third tier.
Despite the winless run, Rovers boss Joey Barton has been linked with the manager’s job at Championship side Preston North End but the former Fleetwood boss has played down any rumours linking him with a move to Deepdale.
“It’s not April Fools’ is it?” Barton told BristolLive.
“I’ve reiterated since I’ve been at the club, what we came to Rovers for.
“Walking around the city, I see fans interacting saying, ‘Go on the Gas, get the lads going’.
“For me as a football man, that’s important to have that support.
“The job that is in front of us has been tough, it hasn’t been easy, don’t get me wrong. But we always took on the project of what the football club could be within the city and nothing for me has changed.
“Look, I know Peter Ridsdale and Preston is a fantastic club but Bristol Rovers is everything I need at this moment on my coaching journey.”
“We’ve committed, we’ve moved away from our families and the support I’ve had, overwhelmingly, has been positive and all we want to do is deliver on the promises and the things we’ve spoken about in recent weeks,” the Rovers boss added.
“I would be a hypocrite if I was to walk about at this juncture. Firstly, I’m in the perfect place to learn, I’ve had nothing but support from everybody, and I’m loving (it), albeit tainted with the losses and the losing feeling at the minute – because that drives me crazy and makes me feel sick.
“But that will turn and we will be able to deliver on the promises that we’ve given to the Rovers faithful, to the Gasheads, and we’ll get this club and this city, certainly the blue quarters half of it, rocking and rolling and feeling positive about their football club.
“I won’t be leaving until I’ve exhausted any avenue to get this club winning.”
Barton has Anssi Jaakkola fit and ready for the game on Good Friday after the goalkeeper made a comeback in the loss to Sunderland and The Gas will need the Big Fin to be at his best if they want to mount a successful survival bid.
Josh Barrett and Erhun Oztumer may also feature but defender Alfie Kilgour and midfielder Josh Grant will be out of the Easter weekend games.
Ipswich go into the game still with a chance of making the League One play offs. The Tractor Boys are 11th in the table but just three points off six, with three games in hand on the side currently occupying the last place in the top six, Gillingham.
Ipswich started the 2020/21 campaign with Paul Lambert in charge and defeated Ben Garner’s Rovers 3-0 in the League Cup First Round but a disappointing run through the winter left the board no choice but to sack Lambert and appoint former Wigan boss Paul Cook.
Cook has now been in charge for a month and in that time Town have gained just eight points from a possible 21 but Cook firmly believing he can take his new side up to the Championship this season.
“I’m desperate to give Kayden Jackson a run down the middle of the pitch with James Norwood, I’ve got to tell you that, but that’s something I’ve never played,” Cook told the East Anglian Daily Times.
“You’ve got to be very direct team to do it. You’ve got to have wingers putting balls in the box and hitting second strikers. It’s something I just don’t see us being really good at.
“But I can guarantee our supporters that I won’t be rigid over the last 10 games if there’s something else that I think could make us successful.
“Our supporters watching on at home on iFollow in their thousands will be as disappointed as anyone. All I can say to them is that no stone will be left unturned. We want to go up this year. We are desperate to get in them play-offs.”
Cook will be without defenders Luke Matheson and James Wilson for Friday’s game. Right back Kane Vincent-Young may be deemed fit for the encounter having registered 45 minutes in the Tractor Boys last game against Wigan.
Ipswich Town Predicted XI (4-3-1-2): Holy(GK), Vincent-Young, Nsiala, Chambers, Ward, Dozzell, Bishop, Edwards, Judge, Jackson, Norwood.
Bristol Rovers Predicted XI (4-3-3):
Mets: Ipswich 0-0 The Gas
Simon: Ipswich 1-1 The Gas
Harley: Ipswich 2-0 The Gas