Bristol Rovers boss Coughlan's fury over 'embarrassing leak' to media of injury to star striker Clarke-Harris

Britsol Rovers boss Graham Coughlan
Britsol Rovers boss Graham Coughlan

Bristol Rovers boss Graham Coughlan has spoken of his anger at the injury to star striker Jonson Clarke-Harris being leaked to the media - stating the instigator has 'handed the initiative to MK Dons'.

Reports emerged in the Bristol Evening Post on Tuesday that Clarke-Harris, who has scored eight goals in 12 appearances this season, had picked up an injury while out on a run last weekend.

There was no official comment from either Coughlan or the club at the time.

But in the pre-match press conference ahead of Saturday's Sky Bet League One clash with the Dons, the manager made it clear he was not happy with the leak, saying it could have only 'been one of four people' who let the cat out of the bag.

"He (Clarke-Harris) didn’t suffer an injury when he was training with me. Not to my knowledge," said Coughlan.

"I read something in the paper a source seems to know a little bit more about the injury than myself.

"My assistant manager, my family, the people close to me didn’t know anything about the injury I deliberately held it.

"Only four people knew about Jonson’s injury so to read about it was pretty embarrassing to be honest, somebody going to newspapers and media sources.

"It is not what we do. It is not what I am about, it is not what people are about but if someone has decided they want to go and talk to newspapers, somebody wanted to hand the initiative to MK Dons this weekend that is fair enough.

"If we are working against our own that becomes an issue and a problem.

"Clarke-Harris has picked up an injury. Where he has picked it up, how he has picked it up, Jonno would probably be the best man to answer that - he can take the responsibility for those questions."

Asked to confirm if he feels somebody has betrayed his trust, and irate Coughlan said: "No. I am saying whoever has gone to the newspapers didn’t care about myself and the 18 lads which will be in the squad for MK Dons this weekend.

"They have handed MK Dons an initiative.

"But if we are up against that then we are up against that, it is not a problem. We will battle against that as well.

"I don’t like that type of carry on - there is no place for it. Whoever that maybe will live with it. That’s the way they are."

Coughlan is unsure how serious the injury is to Johnson-Clarke, who was named the League One player of the month on Friday, and insists at this moment in time he doesn't care.

Asked how long the striker would be missing, the Rovers boss said: "The truth is I have not really delved too much into it.

"I concentrate on what we have got, not what we haven’t got.

"I will concentrate on the pitch this morning, the 20 lads I am working with.

"There is no point in me going into the physio room and asking questions and delving into medical matters because I can’t change it, I can’t affect it. I can only affect the ones who are on the pitch.

"Jonno is a big player for us, not ifs or buts about it. He is a big player, he will be a miss but one man’s misfortune is another man’s gain so hopefully someone will step up to the plate and produce.

"No manager likes losing players, no manager likes injuries, but unfortunately it is part and parcel of the game. I dare say we will have some between now and the end of the season, I hope we don’t.

"We are professional, we will get on with it and prepare for Saturday."