PREVIEW: Rotherham vs Bristol Rovers
NEW Bristol Rovers striker Ryan Brunt says he's happy to sacrifice all the trimmings that come with life at a Premier League club in order to further his career.
Brunt became Rovers boss John Ward's sixth signing of the transfer window earlier this week after agreeing to leave Stoke City in favour of penning a two-and-a-half-year deal to join the battle for Football League survival ongoing at the Memorial Stadium.
The 19-year-old striker reported for his first day of training at Rovers' Cribbs Causeway HQ yesterday morning in surroundings that are a world away from Stoke City's £7 million Clayton Wood facility where Brunt has been learning the finer arts of his trade since being plucked out of Bristol City's Academy two years ago.
Brunt, however, seemed unperturbed by the less than salubrious setting in which his first engagement with local reporters took place – neither did he harbour any concerns over his decision to leave a club that has steadily established themselves in the top-flight in the last five years or so in favour of one propping up the rest of the Football League.
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"I just want to play games," said Brunt. "I'd be kidding myself if I thought I was going to get in the Stoke City first team over the next couple of years.
"I decided that moving to Bristol Rovers to get regular football at senior level will be more beneficial to my career than hanging around on the fringes at Stoke.
"Yes, I could have perhaps gone out on loan to a Championship club or one in League One, but what's the point if you are going to spend a lot of time on the bench?
"The main thing for me was to settle down and bring some consistency to my career. I know where Rovers are in the league, but that didn't really play any part in me deciding whether or not to come here.
"I lived in Bristol during my time as a scholar at Bristol City and I'm happy to come back to this part of the world. When John Ward made it clear that he wanted me and then explained his ambitions for the future, I quickly made up my mind.
"I spoke to a lot of people before I came to the decision, of course, (Stoke manager) Tony Pulis (a former Bristol Rovers player) was very honest with me when he sat me down to discuss my situation and spoke only in glowing terms about Bristol Rovers.
"Matthew Lund also never had a bad word to say about the club after coming here on loan a couple of times.
"He really enjoyed his time here and that played a big part in helping me come to my decision as well."
Ward, meanwhile, described Brunt as a "proper number 9" and a "line-leader" when asked what sort of player Rovers supporters should expect to see over the coming weeks and months.
Short on experience, perhaps, but a 'mature' 19-year-old, who is not totally naïve to the ups and downs of life in the lower leagues.
A promising start to a six-month loan spell at Leyton Orient earlier this season eventually ended with Brunt, who has also served time at Luton Town and Tranmere Rovers, spending his final days mostly on bench. I did really well at Orient for a couple of months, but then it tailed off a little bit."
Brunt admitted: "I was on the bench quite a bit towards the end so that was a little bit frustrating. I've experienced a few ups and downs, but that has been good for me. The manager here has shown some faith in me and I hope I can repay that by doing good things out on the pitch."