Stock back to help Rovers stop the rot

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BRIAN Stock is in contention to return to first-team duty for Doncaster Rovers’ Championship showdown with Burnley tomorrow night.

The captain has been out of action since New Year’s Day when he sustained a calf injury in the 3-0 triumph over Scunthorpe United.

The cultured midfielder had to be taken off and replaced by Dean Shiels following a late challenge from the Iron’s Michael O’Connor.

Speaking to The Star, Rovers chairman John Ryan said he felt O’Connor’s tackle on Stock should have been penalised in retrospect by the Football Association and that he ought to have been given a suspension.

It would be a major boost to manager Sean O’Driscoll to have Stock available for selection again, with his squad hit by injuries in recent weeks.

Stock was poised to resume training yesterday and may be included on the substitutes bench when Rovers lock horns with top-six hopefuls Burnley.

“Brian is a good player,” said Rovers No 2 Richard O’Kelly. “He has plenty of experience and is probably the most natural player to play in our central midfield three.

“It will be nice to have him back and available.”

Stock revealed before last week’s 2-0 reversal at home to Barnsley that he was close to agreeing a new contract at Rovers.

The Welsh international, who has been offered a two-and-a-half-year deal to stay at the South Yorkshire outfit, said his representatives had held further negotiations with Rovers hierarchy and a deal was close to being finalised.

O’Driscoll is pondering his defensive options for the Clarets test as Rovers aim to end a run of four successive defeats in all competitions.

He has one vacancy to fill at centre-half with Matt Kilgallon having returned to parent club Sunderland to receive treatment on a hamstring niggle.

It means O’Driscoll will have to choose between Sam Hird and Dennis Souza in Kilgallon’s absence.

O’Kelly expects Kilgallon to be out for two to three weeks. However, Rovers assistant manager has confirmed Mark Wilson and James Chambers are winning their respective fitness battles.

He said: “Mark’s not too bad. He is improving. He might have a chance for Tuesday.

“James’ back has settled down so we are hoping that both he and Mark will be okay to play.”

Although the team have gone six matches without a win, O’Kelly remains confident Rovers will turn around their form and starting climbing up the table.

He said the players are eager to solve their defensive frailties, having leaked 13 goals in their last four outings.

“We are doing a lot of work on both defending and attacking,” he said. “All the players work hard and enjoy each others company.

“The training sessions have been very competitive. The lads have looked bright.

“We have chatted about a few things that have gone on.

“The team spirit is fantastic in the camp and they have stepped up and done everything we have asked of them.”