Bristol Rovers sign goalkeeper Neil Etheridge on loan from Fulham
Mark McGhee began his recruitment drive with the signing of Fulham goalkeeper Neil Etheridge yesterday – and was still "working overtime" last night in a bid to add an experienced striker to his squad.
The Bristol Rovers boss missed out on an unnamed striker from a Championship club on Tuesday afternoon, but has since turned his attentions to other targets and was at two reserve games on Wednesday scouting players for potential loan deals.
Fulham stopper Etheridge, 22, has arrived on a month's loan deal, initially as part of a plan to strengthen the spine of McGhee's side, with an aggressive-style midfielder also still believed to be in the manager's thoughts.
On-loan goalkeeper Sam Walker is expected to return to Chelsea and Etheridge, who has been capped 37 times by the Phillipines and is a former England Schoolboy international, will start between the posts for tomorrow's clash with Fleetwood at the Memorial Stadium.
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The signing of a striker, however, is not yet certain before Micky Mellon's side arrive, but McGhee said yesterday: "We're working hard to strengthen the squad where we can, but it is not easy when you are looking for players with pedigree.
"We're constantly getting young players thrown at us, but we're looking for people with a bit more experience and those players are hard to find.
"The injury to Matt Harrold is something new we have to deal with, and we're doing all we can to find someone with the potential to come in and score 20 goals to compensate for that loss.
"Of course we have to consider finances because good players do cost and we have to think about the wage cap, while the other problem is that quality strikers are often tied up elsewhere and needed as cover.
"There is one or two with the sort of pedigree we're looking for who may be available and, of course, there may be a young player out there good enough to come in and put the likes of Eliot Richards under pressure."
Should McGhee fail in his efforts to add to the squad today, then he may choose to continue with the 4-5-1 formation that helped secure his side a point at Home Park on Tuesday night.
McGhee said: "With Matt Harrold's injury there is no question that I should be playing Eliot Richards, but he leaves us with questions all the time. He is brilliant at times and then he is disappointing, so we don't know what's coming.
"The decision I have got to make now is do I risk Eliot's inconsistency or do I go with five midfield players, if we have not brought someone in by Saturday."
He added: "It is not a negative system at all. We will probably go out on Saturday with a back four of Michael Smith and Lee Brown as full backs, with Garry Kenneth and Tom Parkes (in the centre), so there is pace all across the defence.
"That means there would be no reason for us to play deep, we can push up to the half way line with that back four. When you do that, even with five midfield players in front of you, you still get them up the park and can be a potent attacking force."
Fleetwood arrive on the back of a 5-2 defeat at home to Port Vale on Tuesday night – but have started their first season in the Football League well.
"I know they have come up and had some positive results, and a couple of disappointments as well," McGhee said. "They are ambitious, and, as a team who has come up, will have no fears."