AS the old footballing adage goes, the best judge of a team’s quality is the strength of its bench.
So, with several of the region’s brightest stars failing to make this latest cut, it speaks volumes about the ferocity of competition for places in our fictional starting 11.
Despite their perilous predicament towards the foot of the Championship table, Doncaster Rovers posted arguably the weekend’s best result by stunning big-spending Leicester City and keep their hopes of survival alive.
So it should come as no as no surprise that four of Dean Saunders’ players have survived the cull.
The first of those, Gary Woods, only received the call when Carl Ikeme, on loan from Wolverhampton Wanderers, was forced to withdraw because of injury.
But the young goalkeeper allayed fears his inexperience could prove costly by underpinning a defence which, despite being breached towards the end of the opening period, coped well with one of the most fearsome attacks in the division.
Sam Hird, Woods’ colleague at the Keepmoat Stadium, was also an instrumental figure against Nigel Pearson’s side and would form a solid partnership with Rotherham’s John Mullins.
Sheffield United’s Matthew Lowton and Reda Johnson of Sheffield Wednesday complete the quartet with Stephen Quinn, Jose Semedo and Brian Stock providing a potent cocktail of industry, invention and physical presence in midfield.
Ricardo Vaz Te, one of Barnsley’s better performers during their reverse at West Ham, possesses the knowledge and experience trouble even the most accomplished of opponents, likewise Richard Cresswell, with Billy Sharp delivering the goals.
Gary Woods (Rovers)
Matthew Lowton (Utd)
John Mullins (Millers)
Sam Hird (Rovers)
Reda Johnson (Owls)
Stephen Quinn (Utd)
Jose Semedo (Owls)
Brian Stock (Rovers)
Ricardo Vaz Te (Tykes)
Billy Sharp (Rovers)
Richard Cresswell (Utd)