Ex-Middlesborough and Doncaster man takes new role after retirement as star with ‘high hopes’ pens new deal

 Portsmouth host Oxford United in this weekend’s League One clash
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Defeats for Derby County and Bolton Wanderers in midweek have left Portsmouth in the driving seat for the League One title ahead of this weekend’s round of fixtures.

Portsmouth appear to have hit form at the perfect time and will now be chasing their fifth win in six matches when they host play-off contenders Oxford United.

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The Yellows were one of the in-form teams in the division during the opening four months of the season, but they have struggled to hit the same heights following the appointment of Des Buckingham, who replaced Liam Manning after his move to Bristol City.

Oxford have recorded just one victory in their last nine matches, but remain in contention for top six. They have drawn all of their last three games against Portsmouth and are expected to be difficult opponents for John Mousinho’s men.

Ahead of this weekend’s crucial round of League One fixtures we take a look at all of the main headlines around the division.

Ex-Middlesborough and Doncaster Rovers star assumes new role after retirement

Bristol Rovers defender George Friend has retired from playing with immediate effect to take on the role of becoming the club’s new director of football. The 36-year-old joined the League One side in the summer transfer window and has made 12 appearances for Matt Taylor’s side.

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The versatile defender has played for the likes of Exeter City, Doncaster Rovers, Middlesbrough, Birmingham City and in a successful 19-year career which has seen him win three promotions, whilst twice making it into the Championship PFA Team of the Season.

Friend told BBC Sport: “I’ve learnt something from every single person on my journey. I want to thank all of those who helped me achieve more than I could have ever imagined. Team-mates, staff, managers, owners and fans.

“I now remain determined and ambitious to succeed in my role here at Bristol Rovers. It’s where I started my football journey as a youngster, and it feels very apt that it’s where I finish playing.”

Wycombe youngster with ‘high hopes’ signs new long-term deal

Wycombe Wanderers breakout star Jasper Pattenden has signed a new undisclosed-length contract with the club.

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The 21-year-old has emerged as a first team fixture this season after a loan spell with Dorking Wanderers in the National League last term. So far this term, he has played 18 times for the first team and has been lauded for his performances by manager Matt Bloomfield.

“Jasper had to be really patient for his chance,” said Bloomfield.

“But he absolutely grabbed it when it came, before he picked up an unfortunate injury. He’s got great energy about him, and I love the way he conducts himself. We’ve got high hopes for him.“

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