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This Week's Opposition: Bristol Rovers

Photo Credit: Bristol Rovers FC

After a summer of new signings and pre-season friendlies, the Blues are back at Fratton Park to kick-off the 2023/24 campaign, with John Mousinho at the helm for the start of his first full season in management! For this curtain-raiser, the Blues play host to Bristol Rovers.

There’s an air of excitement developing around PO4, with more work to the Milton End completed over the summer and Pompey’s rounding pre-season off with 4 wins, a draw and 2 defeats.

Let's hope they can start this season with a win and get the fans backing the boys for the road to promotion. 

MANAGER

Former professional footballer Joey Barton is at the helm of The Gas.

He began his football career in 2002 with Manchester City after working his way up through the youth system and ended up making over 150 appearances for the club.

Barton then went on to play for Newcastle United for 4 years before joining Queens Park Rangers, who he helped to win promotion to the Premier League.

However when QPR got relegated again in 2015, Barton was released and signed a one-year deal with Burnley, helping them also to win promotion to the top-flight before leaving to join Rangers in 2016. 

The controversial figure started his managerial career at Fleetwood Town. He then left the club in 2021 with club 10th in League One.

He was appointed as the manager of Bristol Rovers when the club was in a relegation battle. Rovers were relegated to League 2 and Barton was awarded League Two Manager of the month in March 2022. A few months later, Barton signed a new three-year contract extension to keep him at the club until 2026.

You won’t see him at Fratton Park this weekend however, he is serving a touchline ban that has carried over from last season.

ONE TO WATCHThomas_BRFC

24-year-old midfielder Luke Thomas needs to be closely monitored by the Blues this weekend.

The Rovers’ number 11 reunited with the club on a free transfer from Barnsley over the summer - He had spent 4 years with The Tykes, who loaned him out on 2 occasions over that period.

One of those loan spells was with Bristol Rovers, who enjoyed his services during the 2021/22 campaign, where he made 28 appearances for the club.

TOP SCORER

Welsh striker Aaron Collins was the top goal scorer for The Gas last season, scoring 16 goals and assisting 11. 

Collins joined Rovers on a 2-year deal in 2021 following the expiration of his contract with Forest Green, scoring his first goal for the club with an incredible strike from 25-yards to make it 3-3 in the 115th minute of an FA Cup First Round tie with Oxford United.

Aaron Collins scored his first career hat-trick against Rochdale to secure Rovers’ League Two automatic promotion hopes.

Collins recently signed a new 2-year contract extension to his existing deal, keeping him at the club until 2025.

At last season’s EFL Award Ceremony, Collins was awarded League One Player of the Season and was also named in the League One Team of the Season. He also won the Bristol Rovers Player of the Year award at the end of the campaign for his efforts contributing to becoming the club’s top scorer.

CURRENT FORM

Rovers’ pre-season friendlies ended in an accumulation of 4 wins and 1 defeat. 

Joey Barton has made 8 new signings this season, with 5 of these being on free transfer.

The Gas finished their first season back in League One last time out in 17th position out of 24th, securing 53 points from 14 wins, 11 draws and 21 defeats.

So, will this finally be the year the Blues achieve promotion, after 7 seasons in League One?

It’s almost time to find out and it all starts right here, with all of the unmissable action, when Pompey Live returns on 93.7 Express FM from 2 O'Clock on Saturday afternoon!

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