HOW IS BOBBY THOMAS GETTING ON AWAY FROM BURNLEY AT BRISTOL ROVERS?

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Bristol Rovers were trusted with the development of Bobby Thomas in the summer as Burnley turned to former midfielder, Joey Barton, to bring the 21-year-old’s game on. 

The Gas were stepping up fresh into League One following their remarkable promotion on the final day of the 2021/22 League Two season.

It’s not been the ideal start to the season for Barton’s side, who sit 21st in the League One table, in the relegation zone after six defeats in 10. That’s even more disappointing when you consider there were two wins in the opening three fixtures.

What’s Thomas’ role been this season, then, after his arrival on transfer deadline day?

Just days after arriving, Thomas was thrust into the action against Morecambe, completing 90 minutes at centre-back. Jensen Weir and Kieran Phillips had twice put Morecambe into the lead, either side of Ryan Loft’s goal, before Thomas popped up on 80 minutes with an equaliser.

The defender retained his place in the side 10 days later against Ipswich Town, again featuring at centre-back. Conor Chaplin and Lee Evans had struck in each half to leave Ipswich on their way to a 2-0 win, before chaos ensued for Gas with Thomas receiving two cautions in four minutes and earning a red card. Alfie Kilgour would follow him in stoppage time at the end of the second-half.

Thomas was therefore suspended for the 6-3 defeat at Lincoln City, before returning on the weekend gone by against Accrington Stanley, thrust back into the starting line-up with Barton facing a defensive crisis. Despite that, there was a third defeat on the spin as Rovers lost out 1-0.

The stats Thomas has delivered in some departments have been fairly impressive: 16.99 recoveries per 90, 5.98 interceptions and 2.83 clearances (Wyscout). He’s also won 62.5% of his defensive duels and 71.9% of aerial duels. Yet there’s work to be done – 75.6% pass accuracy could be better and he could be more accurate with his progressive passing into the final third, with a success rate of only 31.3%.

In only three games, it’s admittedly a small sample size, but the stats are something of a mixed bag.

You’d argue, though, that the point of this loan is to iron out those flaws in Thomas’ game. After all, if he was the finished article, he’d be in the Championship with Burnley rather than fighting at the bottom of League One with Bristol Rovers.

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