copps eyes safety push

Eternal optimist: James Coppinger believes Rovers can still get out of trouble.           Picture: Steve uttley.
Eternal optimist: James Coppinger believes Rovers can still get out of trouble. Picture: Steve uttley.
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DONCASTER Rovers’ longest-serving player James Coppinger is targeting Championship survival in the wake of their early exit from the FA Cup.

Dean Saunders men fell at the first hurdle of Britain’s oldest cup competition last week, losing 2-0 at home to Notts County.

Now, with just the league to focus on, Coppinger is determined to lead Rovers, who are in 23rd position in the second tier of English football ahead of their showdown with Cardiff City this afternoon, to safety.

“Obviously you want to try and win every game but the FA Cup can be a kind of distraction for clubs in our situation in the league,” said the midfield playmaker.

“We were not the only side to lose to lower league opposition in either the Championship or the Premier League. Wigan got beat by Swindon but that result will be forgotten if they stay in the Premier League.

“We are in a similar situation and the last thing that you want to do is to pick up injuries, or play extra games because of a cup run, and then come up against teams that are fresh in the league.

“I’m not denying that a cup run, such as the one we had in the Carling Cup, a few years ago can be nice. If you are in mid-table like Notts County are, then you can probably afford to go on a cup run.

“For me, we’ve got to put the Notts County game behind us and remember what we produced against the likes of Barnsley, Leicester and Southampton.

“Cardiff are doing really well. They’ve had a change of manager with Malky Mackay coming in and they’ve also made changes to their squad. But they seem to have adapted really well and they are looking really good and it will be a difficult game for us.

“But with two tough away games to follow it’s a game we’ve got to be looking to try and win. We’ve got to try and give the fans something to shout about because they are going to play a massive part to play between now and the end of the season.

“If we can keep our recent home form in the league going then that would play a big part in us staying up. But we also know that we’ve got to do better away from home (than in the first half of the season).and we need to be more consistent.”

In-demand Rovers striker Billy Sharp is set to return to the starting line-up after being left out of the County cup tie while defensive midfielder Damien Plessis is in contention to feature against the Bluebirds, having received international clearance on his loan move from Panathinaikos on Wednesday.

Herold Goulon is in line to play after recovering from a hamstring problem.