Bristol Rovers snap up defender Mark McChrystal on short-term deal
BRISTOL Rovers boss John Ward yesterday completed his fourth signing of the January transfer window after offering former Tranmere defender Mark McChrystal a deal until the end of the season.
Ward moved quickly to draft in another central defender after Rovers had an offer to sign Cian Bolger on a permanent deal turned down by Leicester City and were told it was "unlikely" they would get the youngster back on loan.
The manager is also weighing up the possibility of signing striker Guy Madjo, pictured, after inviting the recently-released Aldershot forward to train at Cribbs Causeway until the end of this week.
The well-travelled striker, who has played for a host of Football League clubs – including cross-town rivals Bristol City – since starting out at Wessex League side Petersfield Town eight years ago, could offer Ward the physical presence that has been lacking since the return of Tom Eaves to parent club Bolton last week.
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Madjo, who was drafted into the Cameroon national team as a replacement for the injured Samuel Eto'o in 2007, scored eight times for Aldershot in 23 appearances over a two-year period and also claimed three goals in a loan spell at Plymouth Argyle earlier this season.
McChrystal, 28, is a former Northern Ireland Under-21 captain, who began his career at Wolverhampton Wanderers, but returned to play in his homeland after being released.
He returned to England when offered a deal to join Tranmere in January 2011, but has been out out-of-favour at Prenton Park this season and played three times during a short loan spell at Scunthorpe.
"I worked with Mark when he was a young player at Wolverhampton Wanderers, so I know a bit about his character, and I have followed his career from afar," said Ward.
"The timing was great because Mark became available as Cian Bolger had to return to his parent club. He is an experienced player now and he will add strength, power and knowledge to our backline.
"Mark is a typical centre-half who will defend and head the ball, and wears his heart on his sleeve. He is ready to play for the cause, and even though he is only here for the short-term, he knows if everything goes well, it could turn into something longer."
Ward, who is still hoping to bring Stoke midfielder Matthew Lund back to the Memorial Stadium until the end of the season, is now unlikely to get Bolger back and he confirmed: "I've made a bid to buy Cian and that has been turned down. Whether we can improve on the initial offer is questionable at the moment. We'd like to have Matt back here, but that is a decision for Stoke to make."
Ward will be hoping Rovers' can extend their unbeaten run to three games when they face leaders Gillingham at home tomorrow.
"A win at home and a point at Aldershot has served to inject a bit of confidence into the boys," said Ward. "What people have seen over the last couple of games is that the attitude and approach from everybody involved has been good.
"That attitude, however, will be tested to the full in the next couple of games because we have tough opponents in the shape of Gillingham and Fleetwood, so now we have to maintain that sort of spirit if we are to get anything out of those games."
He added: "Gillingham are top of the division, so they are the best team in this league at the moment. On any given day, however, things can happen in our favour."
Striker David Clarkson (ankle) is still rated doubtful, while defender Jim Paterson (hamstring) is definitely out. Defender Danny Woodards (ankle) could make a return and skipper Garry Kenneth is back after suspension.