Mansfield Town vs Bristol Rovers preview: How to watch, kick-off time, predicted lineups, team news, officiating and ones to watch
Above: Bristol Rovers manager Joey Barton and player Alex Rodman in discussion last season (Photo taken by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

Bristol Rovers make their return to Sky Bet League Two with a visit to Nigel Clough's Mansfield Town this coming Saturday at 15:00 BST.

The Gas suffered relegation from England's third tier last season after ending the season on 38 points and rock bottom of Sky Bet League One.

They begin their season with a journey to the One Call Stadium to face Mansfield, who finished in an underwhelming 16th place last season despite splashing the cash in the transfer window.

  • Team news

The Stags bolstered their squad with nine new additions in the Summer, meaning that there could be an array of debuts tomorrow, including the new attacking options of Rhys OatesDanny Johnson and Ollie Hawkins.

In a recent interview with the official Mansfield Town website, Clough expressed his delight with his new signings, saying he was "very pleased". 

Ollie Clarke will return to face his former employers, as the Mansfield midfielder spent ten years with the Gas

Midfielder Harry Charsley (thigh) will likely miss the game.

Bristol Rovers on the other hand have gone through a large rebuild throughout the off-season, with 13 new signings arriving at the Memorial Stadium.

Manager Joey Barton today announced that Paul Coutts would captain the side heading into the new season despite being a new signing, with players such as Luke Thomas and Harry Anderson also likely to push for a first start.

However, Barton's side have a few injuries heading into the match, with Brett PitmanBrandon Hanlan and Aaron Collins all ruled out of tomorrow's clash. 

  • Predicted lineups

Mansfield Town: Stech; Hewitt, Perch, Rawson, McLaughlin, Quinn, Clarke, Maris, Oates, Hawkins, Sinclair

Bristol Rovers: Jaakkola; Baldwin, Hughes, Harries, Anderton, Thomas, Coutts, Finley, Anderson, Barrett, Nicholson

  • Ones to watch

Ollie Hawkins

A man who will be keen to prove himself under the stewardship of Clough, Hawkins will be expected to lead the line tomorrow.

Standing at 6”5, Hawkins had a mixed spell at Ipswich Town, netting just one goal in 20 appearances but proving himself as a sturdy option under Paul Cook. His departure from the Tractor men spells bad news for the rest of League Two, who will have to contain a striker with the physical qualities of Hawkins.

With the pressure of Johnson, Oates and Jordan Bowery also available to play down the centre, Hawkins will be desperate to make that position his own and to rediscover the form he once had at Dagenham & Redbridge.

Paul Coutts

Not only is Coutts the new club captain of Bristol Rovers, he’ll also be a key member of their squad as they look to bounce straight back from their relegation.

The former Sheffield United and Fleetwood Town man is vastly experienced as a creative midfielder, and will be looking to replicate the talents of his manager Barton, who back in the day was a fantastic midfielder, with Coutts eager to show he has the talents and the leadership qualities to lead the club.

At 33-years old, Coutts gained experience in the division at the end of last season following his loan spell with Salford City, so unlike the majority of his teammates, he’ll know what to expect from the challenge of Mansfield.

  • The officiating

Referee: Joshua Smith

Assistant referee: Marc Wilson

Assistant referee: Natalie Aspinall

Fourth official: Daniel Middleton

  • Previous meeting

Whilst these two sides haven't faced each other since 2016, Mansfield will be hoping to pick up their second every victory against the Gas.

Last time out however it was Bristol Rovers who were victories thanks to a second half strike from Matt Taylor on the hour mark.

​​​​​​​The game will not be available to stream via iFollow this season for those in the UK, with Saturday fixtures kicking off at 15:00 BST no longer permitted. Tickets are still available for home and away fans.

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