Friend stands tall in Rovers defence

Rising to the challenge: George Friend challenges Leeds skipper and goalscorer Jonathan Howson in Saturday's 5-2 defeat.       Picture: PA Wire
Rising to the challenge: George Friend challenges Leeds skipper and goalscorer Jonathan Howson in Saturday's 5-2 defeat. Picture: PA Wire
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DONCASTER Rovers defender George Friend has taken to his new role like a duck to water.

The summer signing from Wolves has switched effortlessly from left-back to centre-back for injury-hit Rovers in the last few weeks, winning rave reviews for his performances.

Partner: Wayne Thomas

Partner: Wayne Thomas

“I don’t know about being one of the stars of the side of late, but I’ve quite enjoyed playing at centre-back,” said the unassuming Friend.

“I’ve formed a bit of a defensive partnership with Wayne Thomas. He’s an experienced centre-back and he’s been helping me through the role.

“I’m pleased with how things have gone so far and prior to the Leeds game on Saturday we’d stopped shipping in a lot of goals and we’d been getting getting results, which we needed to do. As I say, I’ve enjoyed playing centre-back but I’ve only played four games there so I’m not getting carried away.

“If I play for a whole season at centre-back and do well then I can start saying that that is my best position.

“There is a difference between playing at full-back and centre-back. I guess you are more in the firing line in that your main threat comes from strikers rather than wingers.”

Being one of the tallest players at the club, Friend was probably an obvious choice when Rovers were looking for a left-sided centre-back.

“My height may help at centre-back but I still have to work on a lot of aspects of my game; I’m still learning,” he said.

“When I play at left-back I am able to push forward and link up with the attack and I kind of want to push forward a bit at times playing centre-back but your not supposed to and Tommo keeps the reins on me.

“There is also a lot more headers to deal with than at left-back and I expect that will certainly be the case in tonight’s home game againstCoventry.

“They’ve got some big lads and they sometimes play more of a route one game than some of the other teams in the Championship.

“So I’m expecting to be kept busy with a lot of headers if I retain my place at centre-back.

“But whoever plays there will be pressure on the back-four from long balls and from set-pieces but it’s something that we’ve worked on in training.

“We’d picked up five points in three games prior to the game at Leeds and we’ve got to try and get another run going to make sure we don’t get sucked into a relegation battle.

“There is always a fear of relegation whenever you are in the bottom half of the table at this time of the year but I don’t think that anyone has panicked.

“Injuries have played a big part in what has happened since the start of the year. But everyone who has come in has given it their all.

“Fortunately we are starting to get some of our injured players back and that will help strengthen the squad for some of the tough games ahead.”