Bevan remains hopeful of saving career as Buckle plots course with Luton
Scott Bevan was one of the first names on Paul Buckle's shopping list when the former Torquay United manager left Plainmoor to take over at Bristol Rovers last year.
The experienced goalkeeper was the Pirates' first choice between the posts during the 2011-12 season. He lasted the course, unlike Buckle, but this term has not been a success story for Bevan. Far from it.
After making 42 first-team appearances for Rovers last season, the 33-year-old has yet to get his gloves dirty in match action this term. Bevan, who joined the Pirates from the Gulls in June 2011, has been troubled by a wrist injury which has stalled his career.
It is not a new problem. He coped with it last season, and an operation in May this year was supposed to fix it. That has not happened, and he faced fears that his playing days could have come to an end.
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Mark McGhee, Buckle's replacement as manager at the Memorial Stadium, told BBC Radio Bristol last month: "Scott is still struggling, and very soon we're going to have to make a decision.
"He's either going to have to accept that it's never going to be 100% and get back out to do what he was doing last season, which was playing with a strap. Or he's going to have to face up to another operation, in which case there is no certainty he would ever play again. We are very concerned about his situation."
Since then, the picture has become brighter for Bevan. This week, he told the Bristol Post: "There has been a slight improvement over the last two or three weeks. I've started to do a bit of handling work, and that has given me a little spring in my step.
"Years of being a goalkeeper have taken a toll on my wrist, so there is a lot of wear and tear in there – and the surgery has probably made the problem worse, to a degree.
"I'm due to see a surgeon to get a second opinion and to see if there is anything he can do. There is a possible option of further surgery, but I'm very hesitant to go down that route. It is one of those injuries which I'll have to accept will always cause me a bit of pain.
"I'm confident that I'll be back playing again. I was a bit scared about it, I'm not going to deny that, but I have never entertained any thoughts that I might not play again."
McGhee's predecessor is hoping to join the Pirates and the Gulls – assuming neither side go up this term – in npower League Two next season. After Buckle's short and unproductive spell at the Memorial Stadium, he is thriving with Luton Town.
Buckle, who left Rovers in January, took charge of the Hatters in April. Luton are in second place in Blue Square Bet Premier, a point adrift of leaders Newport County, and are favourites with bookmakers to win the title and earn automatic promotion.
Buckle's Luton side won 2-1 at Forest Green Rovers last weekend to boost their push for honours, thanks to goals from former Exeter City striker Stuart Fleetwood and ex-Torquay forward Scott Rendell. The happy Hatters' boss said: "There's a confidence about the players. They believe in each other, there's no heroes, no superstars.
"No one thinks they're too good and this is what it's going to take, lots of grit and skill and hard work along the way."
Luton will take a break from the pursuit of points today, when they entertain Blue Square Bet Premier's bottom team, Nuneaton Town, in the first round of the FA Cup.
Nuneaton's squad will include former Plymouth Argyle and Scotland full-back David McNamee, who last month signed a contract until the end of this year with the Warwickshire club.
The 32-year-old, who has been unlucky with injuries, has had a stop-start career since leaving Home Park in May 2010. It took him until Christmas that year, when he joined Aberdeen, to find his next port of call, and then he was without a club for the first half of last season.
McNamee signed for Ross County in January this year – not long after a deal with Bristol Rovers fell through after Buckle's exit from the Pirates – but a broken wrist suffered on the training ground meant he never played first-team football for the Dingwall outfit prior to his release in May.
McNamee, who has been playing in central midfield for Nuneaton, returned south for family reasons. His partner comes from Coventry, and he met her when he was playing for the Sky Blues, from whom he joined Argyle in 2008. "I want to finish my career local to her and Nuneaton is a good place to do that," he said.