It would be fair to say in recent times that if you thought of Bristol Rovers, the name Joey Barton would spring to mind. The controversial former manager of the Gas has been out of work for over a month and going through a very public spat on X (formerly Twitter) about women’s place in the men’s game.
Since Barton’s departure, Rovers have appointed Matt Taylor, and look to kick start their season as they sit in no-man’s land, no closer to the playoff places as they are to relegation.
There is one player though who is starting to find a groove through all the turmoil. Signed in the summer, it is fair to say that James Wilson has had a stop-start beginning to his time at Rovers.
Thought highly enough to give him a two-year contract, the 34-year-old centre-back is finally showing signs of repaying that faith. After helping Plymouth Argyle gain promotion from League One last term, it was hoped that he could steer the Bristol side in the same way.
— Bristol Rovers Live (@BristolLiveBRFC) December 11, 2023
As reported in BristolLive, there was a big overhaul of the squad, and Barton at the time saw the defensive line as an area that needed improvement. Wilson was seen as the perfect fit. The Welshman was a near ever-present during the Pilgrims’ run to promotion and his experience was vital.
Unfortunately, there have been some setbacks due to injury and Wilson has already missed 10 games this season, and this could be seen as one of the reasons why Rovers have failed to keep up with the teams in and around the top places.
The defence has coped in his absence, as they have been forced to rotate players in, and sometimes use players out of position. Taylor though will start to see how good Wilson will be going forward as the veteran of nearly 400 games has now started five straight league games, and Rovers have only lost once in that time.
For a team looking to push up the table, having players of experience helps. James Wilson ticks that box and more. If he can stay fit, and keep the run of games going, then there is no doubt Rovers will reap the benefit of his play. Much to the joy of the new boss Taylor.