Bristol Rovers captain Matt Gill faces two months on the sidelines
By The Bristol Post | Saturday, December 03, 2011, 07:00
BRISTOL Rovers will be without midfield duo Matt Gill and Craig Stanley for tomorrow's FA Cup clash at AFC Totton.
Matt Gill faces two months on the sidelines after undergoing knee surgery
Skipper Gill faces two months on the sidelines after undergoing surgery on a knee cartilage problem.
Stanley is forced to sit the game out through suspension after receiving his fifth booking of the season in last weekend's 1-1 draw at Southend.
The double blow means manager Paul Buckle – already without long-term casualties Adam Virgo, Wayne Brown and Scott McGleish – will be forced into another reshuffle for the trip to the non-league side.
"Losing our captain is a huge blow to us," admitted Buckle. "With Craig Stanley suspended as well – and three other players out long-term – we are not in a great position in terms of numbers and have to be careful in training so we don't lose any more.
"We have got 14 outfield players, so some of the youth team will get an opportunity and will travel with us.
"It may be a small group, but we are strong mentally and we are going to need those attributes on Sunday."
Buckle is well aware that in-form Southern League Premier Division side Totton, who are bidding for their second promotion in as many seasons, will be no pushovers in a game being screened live on ITV.
"The TV cameras will be there because people think there could be a shock. All the focus is on Totton, and rightly so because they have done ever so well to get through," he said.
"We have got to go there and make sure we do a professional job, but it is not going to be easy. The FA Cup is full of romance and shocks and we have to make sure we do a good job on Sunday.
"The pressure is on us. Totton can go out there and play freely as they have nothing to lose.
"They are a good side flying high in their league, so we will have to be at our best to beat them. But I have confidence in the players and we are looking forward to the game."
Rovers' assistant boss Shaun North watched Totton beat Frome 3-1 last month and the Pirates have done their best to acquaint themselves with what will lie in store at a packed Testwood Stadium, which holds less than 2,500 fans.
"They didn't play last Saturday, which made things a bit difficult for us as we didn't get the chance to watch them play. But we know enough – we have done our homework and we will be prepared," said Buckle.
"We have got to start well and get on the front foot quickly. It is a tight little ground and it will be packed full of their supporters – but the Rovers fans will turn up in their numbers too.
"They were magnificent against Southend last weekend, helping to push the team on to a point, and we are going to need them again."
Rovers will bank £72,000 in TV money from the tie – with a further £28,000 in prize money if they go through to the third round draw, which takes place after the game.