Bristol Rovers boss John Ward to consider re-uniting Eliot Richards and Tom Hitchcock at Morecambe
Eliot Richards and Tom Hitchcock may be given an opportunity to resume the strike partnership that flourished at Fleetwood Town last month when Bristol Rovers go to Morecambe on Saturday.
Manager John Ward has this morning confirmed that Ryan Brunt is 'doubtful' to make the trip to the Globe Arena to face Morecambe because of a knee injury, while David Clarkson is also struggling with an ankle complaint.
That leaves Ward short of options in a bid to continue with the policy of one physical striker to spearhead his favoured 4-3-3 formation and could herald a switch to a more orthodox 4-4-2.
Ward said: "Ryan said he felt his knee was a bit sore during the first-half of Tuesday's game. We don't quite know how he did it, but it was clear at half-time that he couldn't continue.
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"We don't think it is too serious, but there is a bit of swelling and soreness this morning and at this moment in time he is doubtful.
"We've got quality on the bench so there are guys there waiting to go and now it might just happen for them. If we cast our minds back to the Fleetwood game we played Eliot Richards and Tom Hitchcock up front and they were a major reason why we won the match 3-0 that day.
"A couple of weeks later at our next game, people were, quite rightly, wondering why I changed it by taking them out of the team. They are two good young footballers who are feeling good about themselves at the moment.
"They are a bit different to Ryan Brunt in the way they play the game, but it's not a worry for me if I decide to select them on Saturday because I know they both have the quality to pose defenders a problem."
Winger Fabian Broghammer was also withdrawn during the first-half of Tuesday night's 2-1 defeat at the hands of Rotherham United and is expected to miss out again because of a hamstring complaint, but Ward said: "It gives other people an opportunity to stake their claim and it is up to them to come in and take that chance.
"I've got a squad of players now that has enough experience and life about it, even with two or three omissions, to go to Morecambe and give them a real game."
Ward, meanwhile, is confident that his side can bounce back quickly after seeing a recent six-game unbeaten run ended by Steve Evans' promotion-chasing side at the Memorial Stadium on Tuesday night.
He said: "Defeats happen and you have to bounce back. Losing games of football will happen to every football team, we're not unique in that.
"What is important is how the group reacts to those defeats. The last time we lost a game against Gillingham (on January 5) we bounced back very well and we have to use that experience to do the same again.
"I'm certainly confident that the players will do that. I don't expect to walk out on to the training ground and see the players with their chins on their chests and with their heads down. I expect them to be saying:
"It's a defeat, so what? Let's bounce back, let's get on with it."
He added: "There is a confidence around because of how we have improved and we are still in a good situation. We are much better off than we were say five weeks ago, but we are still not out of the woods.
"We still have a lot of work to do to make sure that we don't get pulled back into that bottom area of the league and that starts again at Morecambe on Saturday."