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Bristol Rovers without Nick Anderton and Paul Coutts for Forest Green clash

Bristol Rovers defender Nick Anderton has been diagnosed with a rare form of bone cancer (Nick Potts/PA)
Bristol Rovers defender Nick Anderton has been diagnosed with a rare form of bone cancer (Nick Potts/PA)

Bristol Rovers will be without defender Nick Anderton and captain Paul Coutts when they kick off their League One campaign against fellow promoted side Forest Green.

Anderton revealed on Thursday that he has been diagnosed with osteosarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer, that is affecting his femur and he will undergo an operation in the coming weeks to remove that part of the bone.

Experienced midfielder Coutts, meanwhile, must sit out the Pirates’ first three matches of the 2022/23 season following his red card against Rochdale in the penultimate game of last term.

Summer signing Jordan Rossiter is one of the options manager Joey Barton has to replace Coutts while fellow new arrivals John Marquis and James Gibbons are in line to make their club debuts this weekend.

Forest Green travel south to Bristol for their first ever League One match having been forced to undergo a major rebuilding project since winning the League Two title last season.

Ian Burchnall is the new man in charge after Rob Edwards left to take over as manager at Watford, while Rovers also saw a number of key players move on this summer including Ebou Adams, Kane Wilson and Nicky Cadden.

Corey O’Keeffe, Reece Brown, Kyle McAllister, Armani Little and David Davis are among the new signings who could be involved at the Memorial Stadium.

Harry Boyes, another new addition, is also in contention to make his debut after a foot injury but last season’s leading scorer Matty Stevens could be sidelined until 2023 after suffering a serious knee injury in April.