Bristol Rovers skipper Tom Parkes pleased by John-Joe O'Toole stay
Skipper Tom Parkes says Bristol Rovers' continuing battle to remain in the Football League has been boosted by John-Joe O'Toole's decision to extend his stay at the Memorial Stadium.
On-loan Colchester United midfielder O'Toole yesterday committed his immediate future to manager John Ward's 'cause' for an additional two months after impressing during an initial four-week loan period.
An improving Rovers have won three of the four games since O'Toole arrived at the Memorial Stadium on New Year's Eve and Parkes said: "It's a great boost for us.
"John-Joe works extremely hard in that midfield area and gives us a lot of experience in there. The first thing that struck me about John-Joe when he came here was how much of a good all-rounder he is.
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He can pass, tackle, defend and also gets into areas that give him a chance to nick the odd goal or two. He's been a brilliant loan signing for us and it is great that he's decided to stay here."
O'Toole, however, is just one of six new signings made by Ward during a busy month of activity in an effort to boost a squad that suffered under the weight of injuries to key players over the early part of the campaign.
The arrivals of Steve Mildenhall, Mark McChrystal, Clayton McDonald, Ryan Brunt and Tom Hitchcock, however, have served to create real competition for places for the first time this season and Parkes said: "The boys the manager has brought in over the last few weeks have been fantastic.
"It is good for everybody that there is some competition around the team at the moment because it makes you push yourself harder.
"Every player needs to be put under a bit of pressure so as not to take their place in the team for granted. When you are aware that there is nobody in the background trying to take your place there is a risk that you could relax or take things easy."
A bolstered squad has certainly served to improve results in recent weeks; Rovers claiming back-to-back victories for the first time in a year following Saturday's 3-1 success at Rotherham United.
That victory at the New York Stadium followed a similarly impressive win away at Fleetwood Town almost three weeks ago and Parkes added: "We are on a bit of a high at the moment.
"We've taken ten points from a possible 15 over the last five games and are off the bottom of the league.
"We are still in the bottom two, but our last couple of results suggest that we certainly are a different and much tougher proposition at the moment.
"I think a lot of other teams would have looked at us a couple of months ago and fancied themselves to beat us every time, but we are a lot stronger now.
"It was a tough ask to go to Rotherham and play a team that is fighting promotion so it was always going to be important for us to be strong all over the pitch.
"I've heard people say that the defence played well, but winning the game was born more out of the way we defended as a team."
Rovers, meanwhile, are running a 'quid a kid' offer across all areas of the Memorial Stadium for the match against Barnet on Friday night (7.45pm).
A 'Happy Hour' will also be running from 5pm in selected bars around the ground and will re-commence after the game.
There will also be discounts on food from the snack kitchen and a Meal Deal at the pasty huts around the stadium.