Doncaster Rovers: Challenge to Rovers’ fringe men

BLACKBURN ROVERS VS DONCASTER ROVERS - RICHIE WELLENS
BLACKBURN ROVERS VS DONCASTER ROVERS - RICHIE WELLENS
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Captain Richie Wellens will be missing for the next two games through suspension and Paul Dickov’s message to his players fighting for first team contention is quite clear - take your chance.

The 33-year-old Wellens received his tenth caution of the season following a reckless retaliation on Mustapha Carayol in the Middlesbrough stalemate.

Dickov was dealt a further blow when a thigh problem to Paul Keegan forced the Rovers chief into taking off his reliable central midfielder.

However, Dickov feels that Doncaster are in the best possible position to deal with changes to their squad and is urging those who come in to give him a positive selection headache.

“A lot of our football, when he plays, is directed around Richie [Wellens]. But now it gives somebody else a chance,” the Scotsman said following their goalless draw with Aitor Karanka’s Boro outfit.

“The squad I have now is probably the strongest it has been so somebody else can come in and take over.

“There was no way Richie Wellens was going to go through the rest of the season without picking up another yellow card so we knew it was going to happen at some point.”

On Keegan’s injury, he added: “Hopefully it was the right thing to do [taking him off] rather than putting him back out there and making the injury worse.”

Reuniting Wellens with Keegan in the centre of Rovers’ midfield has been instrumental in Rovers’ resurrection which has seen them pick up eight points from a possible 12.

Wellens will miss the trip to Brighton on Saturday and the following homegame with strugglers Barnsley. But Keegan may still be in the frame.

“They have been fantastic for us. Like anything in life, if you get your chance you have to take it. Obviously Richie is out so it’s somebody else’s chance to take,” said Dickov who said Wellens reacted angrily after a foul on him was not punished.

The Boro game marked a first start for goalkeeper Sam Johnstone who was a last-gasp loan signing from Manchester United on Friday following a persistent calf injury to Ross Turnbull that will keep the Doncaster shot-stopper out for three to four weeks.

The new addition had little to do on his home debut with the most threatening chance coming from substitute Kei Kamara who dragged a shot wide two minutes before full time.

Doncaster arguably enjoyed the better of the chances on a cold, blustery afternoon at the Keepmoat and Chris Brown may feel he should have done better when he stretched but diverted a chance over the bar with the goal gaping. Despite being unable to offer a breakthrough, Dickov was pleased overall with his 19th placed side’s new-found confidence.

“Three clean sheets in four games, that is what we have been striving for,” he said.

“A lot of credit has to go to the back four but the team as a whole have been a strong unit and it’s made it difficult for other teams.

“We’re going into games with a lot of belief and thinking we can pick up points.”