Bristol Rovers Vs Walsall, Sun 26 Dec 2010

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Football News

Caretaker manager Darren Patterson will have the luxury of picking from a full-strength squad for his first game in charge of Bristol Rovers when they come up against Walsall on Boxing Day.

Patterson took the reins at the Memorial Ground following Paul Trollope's sacking on December 15, but, after last week's postponement against Colchester, the Northern Irishman has yet to oversee a match.

The only slight worry for Patterson was the availability of Jo Kuffour, who was suffering from illness, but, having made a full recovery, he is expected to lead the line.

Rovers will play four games in 10 days over the festive period so Patterson may opt to rotate his squad.

Young midfield duo Charlie Reece and Ben Swallow are among those pushing for a starting berth as they both made a good impression in the Johnstone's Paint Trophy defeat to Exeter.

Walsall boss Chris Hutchings must decide whether to unleash fit-again duo Jon Macken and Reuben Reid.

Both forwards have trained well for the past week having been sidelined with respective calf and hamstring injuries since the club`s November defeat at Sheffield Wednesday.

The cold snap means they have only missed two games during that period, the most recent of which was the 1-0 victory at Charlton 11 days ago.

And, with the result and performance at The Valley in mind, it remains to be seen whether Macken or Reid will start from the off at the Memorial Stadium.

Goalkeeper Jimmy Walker remains in the treatment room with his hamstring problem, but there is good news for skipper Darren Byfield who has seen a specialist and is now set to step up his rehabilitation from a long-term knee injury with a view to returning sooner rather than later.

The Boxing Day trip to Bristol is part one of a massive festive period for the Saddlers as they face fellow strugglers Rovers, Dagenham & Redbridge, Notts County and Tranmere.

Copyright (c) PA Sport 2009, All Rights Reserved.

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Bristol Rovers
Jo Kuffour
League One
Reuben Reid
Ben Swallow
Paul Trollope
Darren Byfield

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