Doncaster Rovers: Is signing the '˜next James Coppinger' on Darren Ferguson's agenda?

He has been the king of the Keepmoat for more than a decade and that status is not likely to change any time soon.

James Coppinger made 39 appearances for Rovers last season
James Coppinger made 39 appearances for Rovers last season

James Coppinger was undoubtedly one of the stars of a brilliant season for Doncaster Rovers, belying his advancing years after reaching 36 midway through the campaign.

Darren Ferguson regularly spoke of Coppinger being one of the fittest members of his squad, with both test results in training and on-field performances backing up the assertion.

Tommy Rowe

Though he confounds expectation by continuing to produce exceptional performances as he edges closer to 40, the time will come soon enough when Coppinger’s contributions begin to lessen.

But talk of succession planning is not on the agenda for Ferguson.

Signing the ‘next James Coppinger’ is not on his mind this summer.

The Rovers boss is happy to put his faith in Coppinger to continue to play in one of the key positions in his preferred line-up.

Liam Mandeville

“We’re going into a new season in a new league but it doesn’t worry me with James about the quality he will bring to the table,” Ferguson told the Free Press.

“Obviously it depends on the form, tactically and all that side of it.

“I certainly wouldn’t be looking to bring in anyone in that position.

“That is one position I don’t need to fill.

Tommy Rowe

“Left back, left centre half, two midfielders and at least one striker is what I’ve been concentrating on.”

Ferguson is also confident in their being plenty of options within his squad to replace Coppinger when such a move is called for.

And it appears the position could fall back to Tommy Rowe (pictured left), who occupied the ‘tip of the diamond’ role more during his loan spell in the 2015/16 season than he did in the last campaign.

“What I need now is, if I play the way I did last season with the ten behind the two strikers, I think Tommy Rowe is the one that would probably push James for that,” he said.

Liam Mandeville

“We’ll definitely look at Tommy playing in that role a bit more often.

“But we’ve got Liam Mandeville (pictured right) who can do it as well.”

One thing which did look like having the potential to slow Coppinger down was persistent tendonitis in his ankle.

The problem hampered him for the final two months of the 15/16 campaign but was held at bay until the last few weeks of last season.

And Ferguson believes the growing knowledge of when to ease off on the veteran has helped him stay closer to full fitness for longer.

He said: “I think we managed that better between the two of us.

“I gave him rest when he needed it.

“He missed a large part of last season which cost us. But this season he’s managed it a lot better.

“His form was so consistent. He was probably one of our better players for the season.”