Bristol Rovers new boys John-Joe O'Toole and Tom Hitchcock ready for relegation battle
New boys John-Joe O'Toole and Tom Hitchcock say that they are both ready for the challenges that lay ahead after agreeing to join John Ward's crusade to drag Bristol Rovers out of the relegation mire.
Both players arrived at Rovers' Cribbs Causeway training HQ this morning and are expected to make debuts in tomorrow crunch clash with Plymouth Argyle at the Memorial Stadium (1pm) – provided the paperwork to ratify both deals can be lodged with the Football League in time.
Ward, meanwhile, declared himself 'pleased' to have quickly added two new faces to his threadbare squad and believes that both players have the sort of spirit and desire required to help second-from-bottom Rovers out of their current predicament over the duration of their month-long loan deals.
O'Toole, a former Republic of Ireland Under-21 international, arrives with over 100 league games under his belt after debuting for Watford some five years ago – but has fallen down the pecking order at current club Colchester United following a spate of niggling injuries recently.
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He said: "The gaffer at Colchester told me to go out and get some games because I haven't played that much over the last three or four months.
"It was quite an easy decision for me and I hope I can come here gets some games and some goals and be of some help to the team over the next few weeks. I've had a little bit of trouble with my groins this season, but I am fully fit now and looking forward to playing games regularly again.
"I know John Ward from our time together at Colchester and am fully aware of what exactly he will be expecting from me. It is a new challenge for me because I've never really been involved in a relegation battle before. I'm ready to roll my sleeves up and dig in for the cause and all I'm focusing on at the moment is to do well in the games I play in and then to wait and see what happens after that.
"I've heard that the club has a good fan-base and gets a few in at home games so I'm looking forward to experiencing that on Tuesday.
"The last time I started a game was over a month ago so it will be tough to get through the full 90 minutes, but I'll do whatever it takes to make a contribution because the team needs every point available to get out of the situation we are in at the minute."
QPR striker Hitchcock, 20, meanwhile, is at the other end of the spectrum in terms of where his career is at and is hoping the next few weeks will prove useful in his bid to eventually make the transition between reserve team regular to senior first-team professional.
The striker has yet to debut for QPR, but has had a short loan spell at Plymouth Argyle, where he played a handful of league games last season.
"I'm looking forward to what should be a good challenge for me," Hitchcock said. "My main aim is to get some experience under my belt and to score some goals to help Rovers out over the next few weeks.
"I found out about the interest from Rovers late last week and I had no hesitation in agreeing to come here. It is a good opportunity for a young player like me to get some games. Playing in the Under-21 league is good, but it is nothing in comparison to real senior league football. I hope that this little spell will act as a real stepping stone for me in my career."
He added: "I'm looking forward to the game on Tuesday. I was on loan at Plymouth last season and I enjoyed my time down there. Plymouth were in a similarly difficult situation to the one Rovers are in now so I hope that will stand me in good stead for the next few weeks.
"I haven't scored a league goal yet and I'm hoping that it might happen for me against Plymouth."