The return from international football sees our development squad take on the senior side of League Two’s Bristol Rovers tonight as we continue in the Papa John’s Trophy.

The young Blues travel away to take on the Pirates in our second group game, which takes place at the Memorial Stadium with kick-off at 7pm.

Last time out

Our last encounter in this competition was against Exeter City back in August, which ended in a 1-1 draw. However, Andy Myers’s men took the extra point on offer by winning the subsequent penalty shoot-out, with goalkeeper Teddy Sharman-Lowe making some decisive saves.

Bryan Fiabema had given us the lead on the stroke of half-time in a game we deserved to win. However, despite being unable to save a stoppage-time penalty from the Grecians, Sharman-Lowe was pleased with his efforts in the shoot-out as he managed to save the first and fifth penalties to give us the extra point.

Bristol Rovers currently sit top of the group having played a game more than us, though a win for Myers’s men would take us top of Southern Group E.

The opposition

Rovers are currently managed by former Manchester City midfielder Joey Barton and won their opener in this competition with a comprehensive 2-0 win against Cheltenham Town.

They also won their last league fixture at the weekend against Carlisle United with a convincing 3-0 victory with Anthony Evans, Sam Nicholson and Harvey Read Saunders all on the scoresheet. Despite this, our opponents currently sit in 16th place in League Two with four wins, a draw and six losses from their opening 11 games.

The two sides also faced off last season in the same competition at the Memorial Stadium as we ended up on the wrong side of a 4-3 scoreline. Tino Anjorin and Marcel Lewis were our scorers on that day.

Bristol Rovers’ last five 2021/22 results:Hartlepool (a) - lost 1-0Leyton Orient (h) - lost 3-1Walsall (a) - won 2-1Swindon (h) - lost 3-1Carlisle (h) - won 3-0

Words from inside the camp

Josh Brooking has been a key figure in the development squad this season, featuring as a right-back and a centre-back so far, and will be hoping to make his EFL Trophy debut when we head west tonight. He believes the most important ingredient for Myers's men will be to stay united in the face of inevitable adversity.

'The key to winning this game is for the boys to remain tough and resilient,' he claimed ahead of the game. 'There will be moments that don't go our way but we need to back each other up and not let our heads go down.'

Brooking recently returned from injury a couple of weeks ago and is feeling ready to make an impression.

'I’m looking forward to being a part of the team and having an impact in this competition,' he added. 'I've just come back from injury so I feel settled and fit.'

Within Myers’s coaching staff is Jack Mesure, a former Bristol Rovers coach, and so we asked for his thoughts on the game too.

'It's been a tough start this season,' he said. 'We've had a lot of good first halves and good moments but we have not been very lucky with our results.

'On one hand we have a very young squad and that means the possibility of mistakes are increased, however it's our youthfulness and energy that gives us a chance to be very successful in this game.'

He concluded by saying: 'We know that this game will be a more physical one and that there will be players on the opposing team with years of Football League experience, but we as a side can combat that by not getting drawn into a fight and playing our own game.'

In other Academy news, young attacker Louis Flower has signed his first professional contract and will also be in contention to feature against the Pirates.

Meanwhile, the following Academy fixtures have been rearranged with new dates:

UEFA Youth League vs Malmo – now at Kingsmeadow, Wednesday 20 October, 12pm kick-off

PL2 vs Crystal Palace – now on Sunday 7 November, 12pm kick-off

UEFA Youth League vs Juventus – now at Kingsmeadow, Tuesday 23 November, 12pm kick-off

Under-17 Premier League Cup vs Southampton - now on Wednesday 24 November, 1pm kick-off