Accrington Stanley manager John Coleman is out to heap more misery on his friend Joey Barton as the Reds make the trip to Bristol Rovers on Saturday.
The Gas, promoted last season, are currently in 21st place in League One and are on a six-game league run without a win and, like Stanley, have suffered a large number of injuries in the early stages of the season. They do, however, have the joint top scorer in the league in Aaron Collins.
Coleman is hoping Harvey Rodgers, Tommy Leigh and Doug Tharme have all overcome minor knocks to make the trip to the Memorial Stadium as they look to build on last week’s 1-0 win over Cheltenham.
“Bristol Rovers have suffered the same as us they have been decimated by injuries particularly in defence,” said Coleman.
“They have assembled a decent squad and when they get their players out they are a handful for any team in this league. They have good attacking players who are capable of scoring goals.
“Joey’s had experience in this league before, he knows the game, he has played at the highest level, he has got good players in and they are good at taking the game to you.
“You don’t get many games when they don’t score which is testament to how well they attack and we have got to try and get our style of football onto the pitch and stamp our authority on the game.
“We have been ok away this season. I know we lost to Forest Green and Wycombe by the odd goal but in both games we had lion’s share of possession and chances so you need a little bit of luck.
“Both managers have not had any luck on the injury front and both teams will ear-mark this game as a chance to give themselves a lift up the table.”
Coleman admits that the injuries are frustrating – defenders Michael Nottingham and Jay Rich-Baghuelou, midfielder David Morgan and strikers Touray Sisay, Rosaire Longelo, Kody Adedoyin and Matt Lowe are all in the treatment room.
“You can get down and depressed about injuries but its an occupational hazard in football. Some seasons you get loads, others you get minimal. You can’t predict how it’s going to happen.
“You try to and alter your training sessions or look at your pre-hab and your pre-conditioning to try and negate the chances of injury but you can get a pull by running for the bus so we have got to concentrate on the lads who are fit and concentrate on trying to get a tune and result out of them.
“I can’t remember myself and Jimmy over our 21 years here not having a fit recognised striker in the squad.
“We have signed Nathan Delfouneso so that might negate that but it’s unusual. We don’t pile any expectation on Nathan, it’s a deal that’s good for both parties and we can help each other.”
Coleman admits that, with Stanley in 17th spot, League One is proving tough this season – Ipswich and Portsmouth are leading a charge at the top.
“League One has been strong since we have been in it but what you have now is big ex-Premiership teams with a lot of expectation on them and a lot of money being spent trying to stockpile the best players.
“There are three or four clubs in our league who have five or six top recognised strikers and they aren’t coming cheap and only two or three of them can play. Good luck if they can afford to do that and that’s what is making the league strong, people are prepared to spend their money and get proven quality in.”
Meanwhile Coleman praised Sean McConville who, over two spells, has clocked up 400 games for Stanley.
“It’s an unbelievable achievement by Sean. It’s few and far between these days that players play that many games for one club.
“Everyone knows Sean’s affinity to the club, to me and Jimmy and to the fans. It’s remarkable how he has come back from a ruptured Achilles at his age – that could have finished off most people but it shows the drive he has and the willingness to battle through that and get himself fit.
“He has started to contribute important goals for us. He leaves everything on the pitch, he gives his all and crawls off the pitch most days.
“He has played left wing back and left back in recent games, so players like that, his experience and leadership qualities, are invaluable to a club like ours.”
The full pre-match interview with John Coleman is available to watch on the club's official YouTube channel, CLICK HERE to find out more!