Parkes won't be handing favours to old loan club
TOM Parkes insists he won't let old friendships stand in the way of his quest to help Bristol Rovers beat Burton Albion at the Memorial Stadium tomorrow,
The young Leicester City central defender will be well known to Brewers' fans, having had three loan spells at the Pirelli Stadium before joining the Pirates at the end of January.
He has already played four games for the Derbyshire club this season – although his final one came after a six-month injury absence.
"I broke my ankle there at the start of the season – but I'm looking forward to tomorrow's game," said Parkes.
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"The fact I've played for Burton before won't affect me because I'm at Bristol Rovers now and my priority is to see the season out with them.
"I first went to Burton as an 18-year-old and I've had three loan spells there, but that's in the past now and hopefully we can beat them tomorrow.
"I know a few of their lads still. I used to travel in every day with their captain John McGrath, so I have a close friendship with him.
"There will be some banter flying, but from our point of view we have to put what happened at Crewe behind us and concentrate on getting a win."
Rovers never recovered from a disastrous opening in their 3-0 defeat at Gresty Road on Monday, where they found themselves two goals down inside the opening six minutes against an impressive Crewe side.
Parkes inadvertently played a part in the Railwaymen's opener when AJ Leitch-Smith's shot took a big deflection off his outstretched leg as he attempted to block the strike – only for the ball to loop over keeper Scott Bevan and into the top corner.
"We didn't have a good start, but their first goal took a really big deflection and nine times out of ten that wouldn't happen. The second was down to poor defending and their third, from a penalty, killed the game," said Parkes.
"They are a young team with some great players who enjoy passing the ball around. That's the way we have to aim to play next season."
Parkes, 20, was used at left-back against the Railwaymen for only the second time in his fledgling career.
"I played there once before when I was at Burton and really enjoyed it," he said.
"The gaffer told me before the game that he was going to play me there because Jim Paterson had come off feeling ill in the previous game and he didn't want to risk him.
"It's a different position for me because as a central defender you are the backbone of the team, whereas at left-back you can get up and down a bit more.
"I enjoy it because it gives you a bit more freedom to get forward and join in with play, although your main job is still to defend. And even though we lost 3-0, I thought I did alright."
Rovers have yet to taste defeat on their own soil since manager Mark McGhee arrived, and Parkes hopes to be part of a side which finishes the season strongly over the remaining four games.
"We have got to try to win them all. If we can go unbeaten until the end of the season, then hopefully we can carry it on in the next one. If we do well, then we can come back flying," he said.
"I don't know what's happening next season, although as far as I know I'm going back to Leicester.
"I'd be happy if the loan here was extended further because this is a great club and the manager and staff are great, but I signed a new contract for another year at Leicester not long ago, so they don't want rid of me yet!"