Early Bristol Rovers team news as Sunderland prepare for League One clash

Bristol Rovers boss Joey Barton could make changes for Saturday’s League One clash with promotion-chasing Sunderland after bemoaning a “cancer” running through the club.

Bristol Rovers manager Joey Barton.
Bristol Rovers manager Joey Barton.

The former Manchester City, Newcastle and QPR midfielder issued a brutal assessment of his squad in the wake of Tuesday night’s 1-0 home defeat by fellow strugglers Swindon, suggesting some players were “scared of their own shadows”.

Max Ehmer has already been stripped of the captaincy and did not even make the bench in midweek after being hauled off at half-time at Plymouth last Saturday, and he seems unlikely to be included once again.

Sam Nicholson has missed the last two games as he faces up to the prospect of hip surgery to address an ongoing problem and he continues to be assessed, while Alex Rodman is working his way back from a muscle problem.

Sunderland striker Aiden O’Brien could return to the fold after shaking off the hamstring injury which has kept him out of the last three games.

Full-back Denver Hume (hamstring) and on-loan Rangers frontman Jordan Jones (muscle) are closing in on returns with the defender having been out of action since December.

Bailey Wright is working his way back from a calf injury, while Tom Flanagan is recovering from a hamstring problem.

Fellow defender Jordan Willis remains on the long-term casualty list after suffering a ruptured patellar tendon last month.