MATCH PREVIEW: Walsall v Bristol Rovers

GasCast Match Previews by Simon Gray

The League Two season is starting to kick into gear as we approach the ten game mark and Bristol Rovers are yet to live up to early season expectations.

Rovers have won just two of their eight games so far this campaign and have not won away for the best part of nine months.

The expectation of promotion from the board and the fanbase has so far not been met and if form does not change quickly then it could be the end of the road for boss Joey Barton.

After last weekend’s defeat at home to Leyton Orient, manager Barton spoke of how his side needs to turn things around.

“We need to be hard to beat,” Barton told BristolLive.

“We need to stop conceding the goals in the manner that we’re conceding them.

“We can break every goal down to an individual mistake or error, so that’s obviously something that you always factor in.

“The front side of the team isn’t firing. You bring Leon Clarke in and he breaks down after 30 minutes. We’re waiting to see a specialist, it could be the end of his football career, not just the end of his season, we don’t know.

“That options not available to us, I thought Brett put himself about but you can clearly see he’s a little bit short of fitness.

“Aaron Collins hasn’t quite fired, he’s one that’s caught in the confidence trap. Harvey comes round and gives you everything he’s got every game, and you’ve got to take your hat off to him, he wins the pen, runs in behind.”

Barton will be without talisman Sam Nicholson for up to a month with a shin injury, forward Leon Clarke will miss an extended period with a hamstring injury and defender Mark Hughes has picked up a knock on his achilles.

One player that could return from his own achilles issue is goalkeeper Anssi Jaakkola, although the Finland international may have to fight James Belshaw for the number 1 spot after the summer signing has impressed since his summer move from Harrogate in an otherwise disappointing start for the Gas.

Like Rovers, Walsall are a side in transition after a summer of change. A new boss in former Portsmouth midfielder Matt Taylor and 14 new signings through the door.

The Saddlers have also won just two of their opening eight games and are sat one point and a few of places above their weekend opponents.

One Walsall summer signing that is keen to hit the ground running is George Miller. The former Bury man is now onto his sixth loan since signing for Middlesbrough back in 2017.

Now at Barnsley, the 23-year-old is looking to impress after a disappointing campaign at Scunthorpe last time out.

“In previous loan spells, my head has not been bang on it,” Miller told the Express and Star.

“Certain things have not gone my way and stuff, but it just seems to have clicked here from day one.

“I’ve not had that at other places. Here, I feel wanted and want to impress – for my own reasons and to help the team.

“At Bury and Bradford, I enjoyed scoring goals. Then I had a few bits in between which (did not work) for unknown reasons, other things off the pitch.

“Hopefully I can get back on it and enjoying my football. That’s what I want.”

Taylor has no new injury concerns for his side going into Saturday’s match.

Lineup Predictions:

Walsall Predicted XI (4-2-3-1): Rushworth (GK); White, Taylor, Monthé, Ward; Earing, Kinsella; Phillips, Kiernan, Osadebe, Miller

Bristol Rovers Predicted XI (3-4-2-1):

Score Predictions:

Simon: Walsall 1-1 The Gas

Max and Mets: Walsall 2-1 The Gas

Sam: Walsall 3-1 The Gas