DONCASTER Rovers will be aiming to end 2012 on a winning note in today’s League One clash against Preston North End at Deepdale, writes Steve Hossack.
As well as being keen to go into their eagerly-awaited New Year’s Day derby clash against title rivals Sheffield United at the Keepmoat Stadium on a high, Rovers also have a point to prove.
The Lilywhites ended Rovers’ four-match unbeaten run when handing them a 3-1 defeat at the Keepmoat three months ago.
“We got done from two corners on the night and that is something that we’ve spoken about and worked on in training this week,” said Rovers boss Dean Saunders.
“They are good at set-plays, as all Graham Westley’s sides always are, and we are going to have to try to combat that today.
“Having said that, we’ll just be concentrating on what we’ve got to do and work on the things that we have been doing well away from home all season.
“Deepdale is not going to be an easy place to go, but we have lost only once away from home in the league and we’ve got the best away record in England this season, so we’ve no need to be frightened of going anywhere in this league.”
Preston looked set to kick-on after their victory at the Keepmoat and Saunders tipped them to be “there or thereabouts’’ at the end of the season.
But things haven’t worked out that way.
They currently find themselves down in 14th spot having gone seven league games without a win.
“Graham Westley put a new team together at the start of the season, like we did, and it takes time to get things right.
“If you pick up a few injuries, as they have, it can sometimes put your preparations back months.
“They’ve drawn 10 games but having watched some of their DVDs they probably should have won some of them,” said Saunders, who has noted the fact that Preston have only lost seven of their 23 games.
“They’ll be desperate to pick up the three points after the run they’ve been on but so are we.
As well as again being without midfielder Martin Woods (thigh), Rovers will also lack the services of Preston striker Iain Hume.
He is set to extend his initial four-month loan spell until the end of the season.
“Obviously we’ll miss him,” said Saunders.
“He’s a good player who gets goals but most of all he gives you everything and he chases lost causes.”
Saunders told The Star that winger James Coppinger, who has been on loan at Nottingham Forest since September, could make his return to the Rovers squad in the e New Year’s Day derby clash against Sheffield United if the necessary paper work has been finalised in time.
Did you know? Preston were the first team to do the double. They were the first winners of the Football League Division One title in 1888-89 and they also won the FA Cup the same year.