MANY Doncaster Rovers’ fans will have been surprised to see Dutch defender Shelton Martis on the bench in Tuesday’s Carling Cup second round tie against Leeds.
Martis, who was an unused substitute, was as well.
The centre-back had only been back in full training for a couple of days following a close-season ankle operation prior to the game.
“I started last Thursday and for the first couple of days it was strictly non-contact stuff,” he told The Star.
Speaking prior to the Leeds game, he said: “My ankle still doesn’t feel 100 per cent when it comes to striking the ball but the surgeon said that would be the case when I resumed training but that it would get stronger.”
Martis was troubled by the ankle last season and missed a number of games.
The club wanted the former West Bromwich Albion man to have surgery at the end of the campaign but he believed that he could get the same results by working hard to strengthen the joint back home in Holland during the close season. Unfortunately for Martis that didn’t turn out to be the case.
“When I started to do some running again my ankle didn’t feel that it had got any better so I rung the club’s head physio John Dickens and told him that I needed an operation because I didn’t feel that I’d be able to manage to play all next season with the ankle as it was,” he said.
“John made the necessary arrangements and I had the operation, which was to tighten the ligaments and tendons in the ankle in July.
“When I went in John said that I probably wouldn’t be back fit and ready to play until the end of September so I’m a little ahead of schedule.
“I’m pleased to be back in training with the rest of the squad but obviously I’m not ready to start because I’ve not had a pre-season like the rest of the lads or played any games.
“I am working hard in training but I probably need a couple of practice games, as is the case with the other lads who are on the comeback trail, and I’m sure that the club will try and arrange a couple during the next fortnight during the international break.
“To be fair I don’t expect to walk straight into the team when I’m fit because I think apart from the Derby game that we’ve been playing okay.
“I’ve watched a few of the games and I’ve been pleased with how we played; we’ve just needed to score more goals.
“It was obviously a big blow having Billy Sharp, James Hayter and Ryan Mason injured in our first two games.
“But I’ve been impressed by the players the club have brought in and there is going to be a lot of competition for places when everyone is fit, but that is what you are wanting.”
Rovers go into tomorrow’s home game against Bristol City propping up the Championship table after losing all four games to date.
“I’m not worried,” said Martis, one of the most laid-back characters at the club. “It is still early season and there is a long way to go.
“But hopefully we can get off the mark tomorrow because that would give everybody a boost.”