Downes happy to offer advice from final visit
On-loan defender Aaron Downes has been using his injury-enforced time out of the Bristol Rovers side wisely.
The New Zealander, who impressed in the four-week period he played at the heart of defence after joining temporarily from Chesterfield at the end of December, is on the way back to full fitness following a knee operation that has sidelined him for the last two months.
Downes was back on the bench at Aldershot on Tuesday night and is closing in on a full return to the side ahead of tomorrow's West Country derby at Swindon Town.
The days and weeks Downes has spent out of the first-team picture, however, have not been spent idly as he has been earning his keep by going on various scouting missions for manager Mark McGhee.
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His latest assignment saw him enjoy a trip to Wembley last weekend to watch Paolo Di Canio's Swindon lose out in the Johnstone's Paint Trophy final to his parent club Chesterfield.
"I went to Sunday's game at Wembley in a bit of a dual role," said Downes. "I played in the early rounds for Chesterfield and I felt like I needed to be there.
"They wanted me to come along and be involved , so I was happy to do that and it was also a good chance to have a look at Swindon as well.
"I've seen them once or twice on television, but it was good to watch them live because you see things that you don't always pick up when you're watching on television.
"I've spoken to the manager (McGhee) about the game and he told me he watched it on television, so I'm sure he'll already have a heads up on what Swindon are all about, but I'll obviously be happy to offer any additional help where I can.
"On a personal level, it was great to see Chesterfield win the game. The Johnstone's Paint Trophy has been the only bright spark in what has been an otherwise difficult season, so I'm delighted for the club, the supporters and the players."
Swindon's disappointing display, however, is only likely to spur them on when Rovers visit the County Ground tomorrow.
The League Two leaders have their sights firmly set on clinching the title and will offer McGhee and his charges a tricky assignment as Rovers attempt to build on their recent improvements.
The two sides drew 1-1 in a blood and thunder derby at the Memorial Stadium back in December when dark clouds were forming around former manager Paul Buckle, but Rovers, you'd suspect, will be a far more formidable force now under McGhee's guidance.
"We've been playing some really good stuff lately and it will probably be difficult to get back in the team," said Downes.
"The lads are doing well and it has been interesting to watch the games to try and see things that the gaffer wants the team to do differently.
"The injured lads have all been around the changing rooms on a match day, so we all feel a part of things and know what's going on.
"It's been helpful because if I get a chance to get back in the team, I'll have a good idea of what the manager will be expecting from me.
"There are a couple of us coming back into contention now, so the squad is returning to full strength and it will probably going to be difficult for the manager to pick a team. It's a good problem for him to have, I suppose, rather than struggling to put together a 16 on a Saturday."