A REDUNDANT visit to Bristol Rovers this evening in the Leasing.com Trophy is not being viewed as a totally worthless exercise by Swindon Town manager Richie Wellens.

After losing their opening two Group F fixtures to Chelsea U21s and Plymouth Argyle, Town travel to Rovers knowing progression beyond the competition’s group stage is not possible.

Frustratingly for Wellens, competition rules state six players from his most recent starting XI must feature from kick-off in tonight’s tie at the Memorial Stadium.

However, Town’s 39-year-old manager expects to make only three changes to his team that drew to Cheltenham in the opening round of the FA Cup at Whaddon Road on Saturday.

Fringe players Ellis Iandolo, Tyler Reid, Tom Broadbent, Taylor Curran, Gabriel Zakuani and Harry Parsons are expected to be included on the team sheet, though.

Wellens said: “Players need minutes, some players that haven’t played in recent weeks will get an opportunity.

“It’s an important 90 minutes for them, not only because of getting 90 minutes into their legs but also to ensure they are switched on tactically.

“Our rhythm at the moment is very good. For our fringe players, it’s a good opportunity for them.

“The rules are a nightmare. It’s a tournament that promotes kids from Premier League clubs, but we can’t promote our own kids because there is a restriction.

“In the FA Cup third round, Premier League teams will make 10 changes. But we can’t do it in this competition.

“As a football club, you should be able to field whatever team you feel fit.”

Only a few dozen fans will be expected to make the short trip to Bristol for Town’s final Leasing.com Trophy game.

Attendances across the competition this season have been confirmed as fewer than 400 on some occasions – Southampton U21s’ trip to Coventry City was played in front of only 375 fans, seven of those travelling up from Hampshire.

That aside, Wellens doesn’t want a bad performance to act as a possible catalyst for another blip when Swindon travel to Salford in League Two at the weekend.

He added: “We’re not going to turn up and be really fluent because we’ll make changes.

“But there will still be a strong team – six players from Saturday have to play. It’s a decision of where we fit in the three or four other players.

“We want to build up that robustness – we’re in a good patch at the moment, and I don’t want to totally disrupt that.

“I would imagine seven – maybe eight – of Saturday’s team will start.”