PREVIEW: Cheltenham Town vs Bristol Rovers
ON-loan striker Tom Eaves is tipping Bristol Rovers to avoid relegation ahead of what is likely to be his last game for the club at Cheltenham Town on Saturday.
Seven-goal marksman Eaves, pictured below, has been one of few highlights in an otherwise disappointing campaign for a Rovers side that currently props up the rest in League Two and is three points adrift of safety.
Eaves, 20, meanwhile, is hoping to sign off in style with 'a goal or three' at Whaddon Road this weekend before his part in Rovers' survival bid comes to an end due to a recall by parent club Bolton Wanderers.
"I'll go back to Bolton and see what happens after that," said Eaves.
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"I was back there for a few days last week to meet the new manager (Dougie Freedman) and his staff because they haven't seen that much of me.
"It is a whole new set-up, so it was good to go back and get a feel for the place again. I don't know what the future holds for me at the moment, but I'd never say never to coming back to Bristol Rovers again.
"I've really enjoyed my time at the club because the supporters and everybody I have worked with have been top-class. The moment I'll remember most is scoring twice against Torquay at the Memorial Stadium in what was a great win for us a few weeks back.
"I hope the lads here can get themselves off the bottom of the table quickly and I think they can do it. There are a lot of games to come after Christmas and a few results here and there could really kick-start the season for them."
A favourable result against a high-flying Cheltenham Town would rank as a surprise, however, after Mark Yates' side continued to show they have not suffered any sort of hangover from losing out in the play-off final at the end of last season by thrashing Wycombe Wanderers 4-0 at Whaddon Road on Boxing Day.
That result kept the third-placed Robins firmly entrenched in the chase for automatic promotion at the halfway-point of the season – but Rovers showed some signs of promise after ending a three-game losing streak with a gritty performance to secure a point at Aldershot in what was new manager John Ward's first game in charge.
"The weather meant the pitch wasn't particularly helpful, so that made the game more of a battle than a football match," Eaves said.
"We had to roll our sleeves up and get stuck in. I thought we showed plenty of determination and spirit to come from behind on two occasions to get a point. We showed a lot of the fight that was lacking in the 4-1 defeat at York in our last game and was a performance that gives us something to build on. We're going to need to show the same sort of fight this weekend because Cheltenham are a very good side as their league position shows.
"I'd love to sign off in style with a goal, but getting three points is more important."