Middlesbrough v Doncaster Rovers build-up: Dickov closes in on defender

Rob Jones will undergo a fitness test today.
Rob Jones will undergo a fitness test today.
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Rovers could have a new left back in their side to face Middlesbrough tonight.

Paul Dickov this week stepped up his search for defensive reinforcements following an injury scare to skipper Rob Jones at Reading last weekend.

Warhorse Jones is expected to be passed fit to face Boro, handing Dickov a major boost ahead of today’s trip to Teesside.

But with Reece Wabara also still not one hundred percent fit after fracturing his toe last month, and James Husband sidelined following shoulder surgery, Dickov remains keen to strengthen his back-line, particularly the left back position.

Any new addition would have to sign on the dotted line before noon today in order to be eligible this evening.

Dickov confirmed yesterday he was close to finalising a deal for a left back, although the negotiations could drag into next week.

On the positive news regarding Jones, Dickov said: “Rob’s going to be okay hopefully. He trained yesterday and he should be available.

“We thought it was really serious at first. He had a bit of bruising and a bit of nerve damage, which meant he couldn’t move his arm. That made us think the worst.

“But since the weekend it’s settled down, it’s still a bit sore, but knowing Rob he’ll want to play.

“That’s a big boost for us.

“From the first day I walked into the club he’s been fantastic,” he added.

“He did a great job last year combining playing and looking after the team.

“He’s carried that on this year. His performances on and off the pitch have been great for me and you need that relationship between a manager and a captain.”

Mark Venus takes temporary charge of Middlesbrough tonight after a miserable start to the new season cost Tony Mowbray his job on Monday night.

“I don’t think you can say it’s a good time to play them,” said Dickov.

“At a lot of clubs, much to the frustration of all managers, you tend to get a reaction from the players the game after a manager goes.

“They’re the home team. They’ll be looking to stamp their authority very quickly on the game in front of their own fans, and it’s on TV as well.

“They finished the game at Barnsley very strongly,” he added.

“We’ve got to be aware of them, they’ve got good players and good attacking players.

“I’m a big believer in the fact it’s about what we do.

“We respect the opposition, we do our homework on them, but if we do things right we’ll be in with a chance of winning the game.”

Richie Wellens serves a one-game ban tonight after picking up his fifth yellow card of the season at Reading.

Dickov is likely to keep faith with Paul Keegan and Dean Furman in midfield, although Spaniard Marc De Val Fernandez is also in contention for a return to the side.

Rovers go into tonight’s game hoping to protect their record of not losing back-to-back games in this season’s Championship.

Historically Middlesbrough is not a happy hunting ground for Doncaster having won just once there, in the 1951/52 FA Cup.