VETERAN defender Richard Naylor is hoping to do enough in the coming weeks to win another contract at the Keepmoat Stadium.
The 34 year-old former Ipswich and Leeds United skipper joined Rovers on a short-term deal in the summer, after being released from Elland Road last season, to help provide cover for the likes of Shelton Martis and Adam Lockwood.
“The short-term deal suited both parties” said Leeds-born Naylor. “Rovers had a few injuries and I wanted to get my foot in the door and show what I could do both on and off the field. We both said at the time that we’d like to extend it if everything went well and there’s no reason why it won’t.”
Naylor was a little surprised at being released by Leeds. “I had a knee injury in the middle of the season, but I started the season in the team and finished it in the team.”
Naylor made his comeback, coming off the bench, for Leeds in their 5-2 win over Rovers in early March.
“Leeds were always a side capable of scoring goals last season because they had a lot of good attacking players,” he recalled.
Many people, including a few Rovers fans at that game, expected Leeds to at least make the play-offs. “The Championship is a tough league and we just missed out by a couple of points,” said Naylor. “I think the club missed a great opportunity because the league looks even tougher this season.
“There were other options apart from Rovers but one of the reasons that I decided to come here, apart from the fact that it was fairly local from my home, was the manager. I met a lot of managers over the summer but he most impressed me. Doncaster’s style of football was also a contributing factor. I was brought up at Ipswich playing a passing game; that’s the way I was schooled - and I was keen to get involved in that here.”
Naylor says he has first hand experience how hard it is to defend against them. “They were always hard to play against; they dominated the ball. It was a case of maintaining your concentration and not letting them hurt you with it. I am enjoying being on the other side! But it is not just about passing the ball for the sake of it; there has to be an end-product. And with Rovers there is.”
In view of the fact that Naylor had captained both Ipswich and Leeds, there was speculation he would be named Doncaster captain until Brian Stock returned, but Rovers elected centre-back partner George Friend. “It doesn’t matter whether I’m captain or not I’ll still speak my mind and be vocal on the pitch and try and organise the back four,” he said.
“That’s something that I hope that I’m bringing to the side because we’ve got a lot of young defenders and also hoping that my experience will benefit those players away from matches in training during the week.”
Having seen Rovers suffer a late 2-1 defeat in their opening league game at Brighton last Saturday, Naylor is keen to see the South Yorkshire side come out on top in tomorrow’s home game against West Ham United.
“It is always important to try and get off to a good start, not least for the confidence it breeds,” he said.