Gary Sawyer hopes to seal new Bristol Rovers deal after an injury-hit campaign
GARY Sawyer is hoping for a fresh start with Bristol Rovers next season after a campaign punctuated by injuries.
The experienced defender, pictured, is out of contract at the Memorial Stadium this summer, but revealed initial talks have started with a view to extending his stay with the club.
Mark McGhee has indicated he would be happy to retain most of the first-team squad, so Sawyer is anticipating far fewer changes than a year ago, when incoming boss Paul Buckle instigated a wholesale clear-out.
"I can't see there being the sort of changes there were last summer. I don't think I've been involved at a club which has had that many ins and outs before," said Sawyer.
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"Quite a few of the boys are still in contract and I don't think we need that many changes – the squad probably just needs tweaking a little bit.
"This season definitely hasn't gone the way everyone wanted it to, but it does look good for the next one. We are not shipping the amount of goals that we were earlier in the season and we go into games now believing we can win them, which wasn't always the case before.
"That's vital at this level because you need to go into every game knowing you can win. We have the players to do it."
Sawyer's season did not start until October because he needed surgery to cure a hernia and groin problem – and he also missed two months this year with a hamstring problem.
"I've never really had to deal with a season like this before because in the past, I'd only ever had one injury that involved an operation," said the former Plymouth and Exeter defender.
"The first injury was from something I'd suffered the season before, so the timing wasn't great – but I've just had to get on with it.
"But I like where the club is going now and what the manager is doing. I enjoy playing for him and I have a smile on my face every day when I come in, so hopefully we can sort things out contract-wise.
"It's in motion and talks have started, so we will see where we go from there."
Since returning to the side, Sawyer – primarily a left-back – has shown his versatility with a couple of outings in midfield, and also switched to central defence when youngster Tom Parkes was dismissed in last weekend's 1-0 defeat at Port Vale.
"I'd not played in midfield before, but I enjoyed it. I wasn't really familiar with it, but it was really done to get me games after I'd been out injured," said Sawyer.
"Jim Paterson and I played together for a year at Plymouth with me at left-back and him on the left side of midfield. We get on really well and know each other's games, so if I go past him, he can cover me as he's a left-back as well."
Rovers play their final home game of the season on Saturday and have reduced prices with adults paying £10 and concessions £5 for any part of the ground.
"We want to go out on a high by winning both our remaining games," said Sawyer.
Rovers are reminding fans that they have until April 30 to buy season tickets for the next campaign while they remain pegged at this season's prices. After that, they will rise by three per cent.