Bristol Rovers seal deals to keep four loan stars
Bristol Rovers are extending the loan spells of four players – with boss Mark McGhee hoping to strengthen the squad further over the days ahead.
Central defenders Aaron Downes and Cian Bolger – and midfielder Andy Dorman – will be staying with the Pirates until the end of the season.
Goalkeeper Michael Poke will remain with the club for at least another month.
Downes has impressed during his first month's stay after signing from Chesterfield, while Leicester City youngster Bolger – who had an initial spell with Rovers last season and returned over the summer – will see out the whole campaign with the club.
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Dorman joined from Crystal Palace in mid-November and has been a regular in the side ever since, while Poke was recruited from Brighton at the turn of the year after previous first-choice Scott Bevan suffered a calf injury and is having his stay extended by another four weeks.
McGhee, who goes into his first home game as Rovers' manager against Bradford today, admits he will have to carry out a reshuffle in the light of fresh injuries – although he will not reveal the players involved.
"We really are down to bare bones and I'm having to look at options of who can play where," he said. "We need to get through this little period until we can get one or two back who can give us strength in depth because we are at a minimum at the moment.
"We didn't have a lot of options last weekend – and this weekend we will be digging even deeper to make sure we can fill holes.
"We may have to improvise in terms of people playing in different positions."
McGhee is looking to bring in more new faces, although they may not arrive before Tuesday's transfer deadline.
"I've been looking at it all week, but any strengthening will be with the season in mind," he said.
"I won't be rushing into signings just for the sake of it and any that I do make will be loans, which we can still do after Tuesday.
"They will arrive when they arrive.
"I'm still learning about the squad in terms of who can cross over and have some utility value before I really understand exactly what I need, so I'm looking at lots of positions."
Despite a shortage of numbers, McGhee remains optimistic the side can continue the recent improvement which has seen them take seven points from the last nine.
"It's not all doom and gloom because I'm very excited and positive about the game," he said.
"Bradford have a man in charge now who eventually will get them out of this division – I know Phil Parkinson well.
"Like ourselves, they have ambitions to be in a higher division – but at the moment, they are in the same fight we are and it's going to be a tough game."
McGhee said he may not risk recalling skipper Matt Gill in midfield, who was on the bench last week and played 75 minutes of a midweek reserve game.
"Matt is closer, although I'm not convinced he's ready to start. I've discussed it with our physio Phil Kite and he is slightly nervous about the possibility of him getting a secondary injury. I will discuss it with Matt," said McGhee.
"We are under pressure because of numbers, but I am not going to play him and hurt him just because of that.
"I'd rather play someone else who is 100 per cent fit and give them an opportunity rather than risk him."