Doncaster Rovers: Coppinger tips old mate Wellens for success with Oldham

Richie Wellens, during his first spell with Rovers, with James Coppinger
Richie Wellens, during his first spell with Rovers, with James Coppinger
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They had an almost telepathic understanding as team mates but this weekend they will be pitting their footballing brains against each other.

James Coppinger and Richie Wellens were key creative cogs in Sean O’Driscoll’s well-oiled Doncaster Rovers machine, at a time when they were producing football which had them labelled the Arsenal of the Championship.

On Saturday they go head to head, and for the first time one of them will be in the dug out.

Wellens brings his Oldham Athletic side to the Keepmoat for his 12th game as permanent manager of the Lancashire club.

Appointed initially as caretaker following the dismissal of John Sheridan and, after winning four of his five matches, he landed the job full time.

Coppinger has long tipped Wellens for football management and has backed his former colleague for success.

“He’s done well already,” Coppinger told The Star.

“It’s early days for him but he’s had an opportunity where he’s been thrown straight in at the deep end so he hasn’t had much time coaching or been a manager up to now.

“It’ll be interesting to see how he gets on as time goes by but he’s definitely got the character for it and I hope he does well.

“I’ve spoken to him a few times and he’s enjoying it.

“It’s a different challenge for him and he’s definitely suited to management I think.”

Coppinger admits he looked out for the visit of Oldham as soon as Wellens was appointed manager.

And it came around rather quickly.

Under Wellens’ permanent tenure, Oldham have won five of 11 matches in all competitions, losing just three.

The 37-year-old has guided the Latics to two wins from their last two games and the head to Doncaster sitting 16th in League One.

At Oldham along with Wellens is another former Rovers team mate of he and Coppinger – Paul Green.

And Coppinger says he has enjoyed winding Green up about having Wellens as his boss.

“I speak to Greeny as well a lot who’s there playing under him,” he said. “We have a bit of craic about it.

“It’s a different experience for Greeny I imagine, obviously having Richie as his manager.

“This is a game I’ve had an eye on.

“It’ll be good for Richie to come back.

“He’s trying to do the right things, do everything right.

“The players respect him and are willing to work hard for him which is one of the biggest things.”