Doncaster Rovers: EFL award nominee James Coppinger in a class of his own, says John Buckley

Sky Bet League Two.
Doncaster Rovers v Portsmouth.
Rovers James Coppinger.
5th January 2017.
Picture : Jonathan Gawthorpe
Sky Bet League Two. Doncaster Rovers v Portsmouth. Rovers James Coppinger. 5th January 2017. Picture : Jonathan Gawthorpe
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Two table-topping Doncaster Rovers players - James Coppinger and John Marquis - were this week named on the three-man shortlist for the EFL League Two Player of the Season award.

But in the eyes of former Rovers winger John Buckley there is only one winner.

“If we’re talking about who has been Rovers’ best player this season, then Copps wins it hands down for me,” said Buckley.

“Don’t get me wrong, Marquis has had a fantastic season and he has proven himself to be an excellent acquisition. His goals are a big reason we are in the position we are in.

“But Coppinger has been absolute quality. He’s got a brilliant attitude and the young lads in and around the first team all look up to him.

“He’s too good for this level and some of the bits of skill we’ve seen from him this season have been mesmerising.

“When he’s not playing we really miss him.

“And whereas in previous years his final product has sometimes been lacking ... well, you can’t say that about him this season with nine goals and 13 assists to his name.

“It has been a masterstroke by Darren Ferguson to play him just behind the two strikers and give him something of a free role. He’s been different class.”

League Two Rovers make the short journey to Grimsby Town tomorrow (KO 1pm) knowing that a win, combined with other results going in their favour, could see them clinch promotion by tea-time.

Buckley said: “I’ve said all along that Doncaster are the best team in this league and that they would go up and nothing along the way has changed my mind.

“It was disappointing to lose the unbeaten home record to Plymouth but that was probably the best way to lose it.

“There was nothing wrong with the performance. We created several chances and on another day we come away with the three points.

“We’ve been very good at bouncing back from defeats this season so I would expect a reaction at Grimsby tomorrow and I can see us winning.”

“Then it’s feet up and see what the other teams do - although it’s all a bit irrelevant really. It’s only a matter of time until promotion is confirmed.”

Craig Alcock is fit for tomorrow but Conor Grant (groin) remains doubtful.