We won't rush Derek Riordan back, says Bristol Rovers boss
BRISTOL Rovers boss Mark McGhee says he is reluctant to rush striker Derek Riordan back into action.
The three-time capped Scotland international missed Saturday's draw at Burton Albion with a hamstring problem and is considered only "touch and go" or the game against Torquay United at the Memorial Stadium this weekend.
The manager is desperate for Riordan to string a run of games together following an absence of five months without competitive action prior to his debut for Rovers at Exeter a fortnight ago. The manager, however, says he won't be taking any chances that would see him lose the striker for any significant period of time before his short-term deal expires at Christmas.
McGhee said: "We need Derek back as quickly as we can, but we're not going to do it at the expense of losing him for six weeks or something like that.
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"I think he may get to a point on Saturday where he may be declaring himself fit of the hamstring injury, but I'd be very reluctant to play him on the back of not having trained for a couple of weeks. If he trains for a couple of days later this week, I'll probably play him.
"If he doesn't train, we might leave him off Saturday and look towards the Tuesday game (at AFC Wimbledon).
"I have to be careful with him, because Derek's level of fitness and strength when he arrived probably wasn't as good as it should be and has played a part in him getting injured.
"It is a similar story to that of Garry Kenneth when he first arrived here. Garry wanted to play games and he got injured because he was not on top of his fitness.
"I don't want Derek to come back from this hamstring problem and then his calf goes and we lose him for six weeks because his strength and fitness is not up to scratch.
"We need to get him to a better level of fitness before we can put him back in. We might use him as a substitute here and there to help him back to full fitness without the prolonged pressure of having to start games."
Meanwhile, McGhee declared himself "delighted" to have extended the loan deal to keep Fulham goalkeeper Neil Etheridge at the club for a further two months – but added that he had some sympathy for second-choice Sam Walker.
The on-loan Chelsea youngster began the season in goal and played eight times during Rovers' difficult start to the campaign and McGhee said: "I do feel sorry for Sam.
"I think Neil has done brilliant for us and we're delighted to extend the loan until Christmas, but we have to be careful because he has benefited from a generally better defensive set-up.
"It is difficult to judge Sam from that point of view because we don't really know how he would have done with the current back four in front of him.
"We don't want to say that Neil has suddenly arrived and that everything Sam done was wrong.
"I think we had a lot to do as a team defensively at the start of the season, so perhaps Sam did not have enough protection in front of him at that time.
"You look at the goal we conceded from 30 yards (at Plymouth) and you could say that, perhaps, Sam might have done better with the shot, but it was a bit of a pot-shot and maybe their lad shouldn't have been given a look at the goal in the first place."