MATCH PREVIEW: Bristol Rovers v Walsall

GasCast Match Previews by Simon Gray

Bristol Rovers host Walsall this weekend looking to continue their good form in the league.

The Gas sit fourth in the form table over the last 10 games after a 3-2 win at Scunthorpe in midweek which should have been convincing given the amount of chances spurned by the away side.

A further positive from Tuesday night’s win was the return of striker Leon Clarke. The former Coventry man had feared for his career after a hamstring injury at Hartlepool three months ago but returned to the side and scored the third goal which seemed to have put Rovers out of sight at 3-0.

After the game, Clarke spoke about his road to recovery and his gratitude to the medical staff for helping him on his journey back.

“In terms of ranking, it’s definitely one of the highlights of my career,” he told BristolLive.

“To be injured for so long… I’d never had a long-term injury like that.

“To be told you’re going to be out for up to six months, it was difficult. There were times when I was at home and it was frustrating for my partner.

“I probably annoyed the kids as well because I was just lying on the sofa with two cushions under my knee and completing everything on Netflix, completing everything on Amazon, passing time because I had to follow everything Stu, Leighanne and the surgeon said.

“Like every other footballer, I don’t want to be injured.

“There was a time when me and the manager had a conversation and the question was ‘Do I call it a day, or do I have the surgery?’

“All credit to the Stu and Leighanne. Stu explained the process to me and how it was going to work. He was 100 per cent sure, as long as I was prepared to put the work in with Leighanne and do the hard work behind the scenes that people don’t see, I would be 100 per cent after the surgery.

“I want to thank Stu because his experience, his knowledge persuaded me to get the surgery if I’m being honest.

Clarke will now be competiting with Ryan Loft, Aaron Collins and Brett Pitman for the starting berth up top and manager Joey Barton also has the returning Harvery Saunders to call on.

Walsall go into the game looking to stop a run that has seen them lose their last four league games in a row.

The Saddlers were denied a point in midweek when Andy Cook netted a late penalty for Bradford in a 2-1 win for the Yorkshiremen.

Walsall were certainly better in the midweek defeat than in previous weeks, with manager Matthew Taylor coming away from the game proud of his team despite the loss.

“The team have done everything I asked them to do,” Taylor told the Express and Star.

“They passed the ball with a better intensity. The energy was there, the effort, the togetherness.

“But sometimes you can’t legislate for errors. Errors in front of their goal, and errors we’ve made in our box.

“It’s a really tough one to take. The team performed exceptionally well.

“We were by far the best team, but it counts for nothing as we end up losing the game.

Taylor does have former Rovers defender Rollin Menayese at his disposal after he served his one match suspension in the defeat to Bradford.

Lineup Predictions:

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

Walsall Predicted XI (4-3-3): Carl Rushworth (GK); Hayden White, Donervon Daniels, Tom Leak, Zak Mills, Jack Earing, Liam Kinsella, Joss Labadie, Conor Wilkinson Brendan Kiernan, George Miller.

Score Predictions:

Jack and Simon: The Gas 2-1 Walsall

Mets: The Gas 2-0 Walsall

Sam: The Gas 3-1 Walsall