DONCASTER Rovers’ boss Dean Saunders is looking to his players to show some character in the New Year’s Eve clash at Watford.
Reflecting on the club’s 3-0 Boxing Day defeat against Burnley at Turf Moor, Saunders said: “Things go against you in sport and you’ve got to have the confidence to take the knocks and bounce back.
“It’s how you react which counts. Weak characters let their heads go down after losing 3-0 but stronger characters can see the bigger picture and what is ahead of them.
“We’ll come out (of the Burnley game) stronger and we’ll be trying to beat Watford.
“I thought that we gave a good account of ourselves at Burnley - though the score line might not show that - and I’m confident that we can go anywhere and get a result.
“We’ve recently beaten Southampton, who are top of the league, and Leicester, and we could have beaten Birmingham.”
He added: “I’ve not had a go at the players because I thought that they played well and kept fighting until the end. I also thought that we defended well all the way through the game.
“We were away from home and Burnley are in good form and they’ve got some sharp players - their two strikers were lively - and Turf Moor is a difficult place to go.
“But, as I said after the game, I felt that we did enough to come away with a result.
“We didn’t deserve to be behind at half-time because they shouldn’t have been awarded a penalty and we’d had chances.
“I just told the players not to go 2-0 down and to stay in the game and to keep doing what they had been doing and that we’d get chances, which we did, but they didn’t go in.
“James Coppinger could have had a hat-trick on another day and their keeper made a great save from him at 1-0.”
In addition to the first half penalty, which still rankles, Saunders felt his side also got a rough deal from referee Webb at other times of the game.
“I thought nearly every decision went against us at one stage,” he claimed. “Hopefully we’ll get one or two things go our way at Watford.”
One of the plus points from the Burnley game as far as Saunders was concerned was the performance of striker El-Hadji Diouf on his return from injury.
“He’s class on the ball,” he enthused. “He’s nowhere near 100 per cent fit and I played him a bit earlier than I really would have liked as a result of Marco Fortune going back to West Bromwich.
“I brought him off late in the game because I didn’t want to risk his hamstring going at 2-0 down.”
Pascal Chimbonda, an unused substitute on his return from injury at Turf Moor, could again have to settle for a place on the bench at Watford.
“He’s had a few training sessions but he’s not had a game,” said Saunders.