Bristol Rovers manager Mark McGhee may stick with three-man central defensive unit
BRISTOL Rovers boss Mark McGhee will consider persisting with a three-man central defensive unit when his side return to league action against Southend United at the Memorial Stadium tonight (7.45pm).
McGhee deployed the system to good effect in the first half of Saturday's FA Cup tie against League One side Sheffield United before watching his side eventually eliminated after Danny Wilson's side scored two goals after the break.
The Rovers boss, however, was impressed with how his players had performed and yesterday confirmed he may continue to field a trio across the heart of his defence in an effort to halt his side's recent run of three successive defeats.
McGhee, pictured, said: "I think the system worked very well for us to a degree and I also feel it is a good way for us to play at the moment. It helped us to get a one-goal lead against a very good Sheffield United side during a first half in which we played very well. Our only failing was that we couldn't quite capitalise on that by adding another goal in the first half.
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"We obviously have to reassess (tactics) for every different game. It is something I have been thinking about, but I don't think we definitely have to change it."
McGhee has the bonus of the return from suspension of Tom Parkes, who is expected to slot back in on the left-side of a defensive three that will also include Matt Lund and Garry Kenneth.
"I'm pleased we have Tom back," said McGhee. "He's one of our better players and I'm still convinced if he had been available on Saturday we wouldn't have lost the game." The manager is expected to move striker Derek Riordan from an unfamiliar left-sided role to one in support of youngster Tom Eaves after the Bolton loanee was forced to plough a lonely furrow up front on Saturday.
"I have to consider Tom's needs and do whatever we need to do to get the best out of him, because he is our main goalscorer at the moment," said McGhee. "I felt a bit sorry for him in the second half on Saturday, because he struggled when playing up front on his own as the game wore on."
McGhee believes his side are on the verge of a marked improvement in performances and results, 14 games into a season where they have struggled to find consistency.
"We need to start building a bit of momentum," said McGhee. "But I do feel it may be coming and that there has been a gradual change of attitude around the squad.
He added: "It has been a case of one step forward and two steps back at times this season. That has had a lot to do with the personnel we haven't had available to us at different times. We have been undermined in what we have been trying to do at times, because we've picked up an injury or a suspension, but I'm confident we will come good eventually.
"I'm still optimistic, because we have (Derek) Riordan and (Michael) Smith back now and Matt Lund is also showing that he can play in different positions. Fabian (Broghammer) is slowly becoming the player we expected him to be when we signed him and there are also other signs for encouragement."