DONCASTER Rovers defender James O’Connor, reported to be in interesting a Championship club, admits that he still doesn’t know where he will start next season.
“With the club still needing to reduce their budget following relegation I don’t think any of the contracted players from last season knows for certain what is going to happen,” he told The Star. “But until such time anything happens, if it does, I am just concentrating on Rovers.
“We play Hull City tonight at the Keepmoat and it is probably going to be our toughest test yet irrespective of whether I’m involved. They are an established Championship side and they’ve got a new manager in Steve Bruce who they’ll all be looking to impress,
“We had two good games against them last year, as we did the season before, and I’m sure it will be quite competitive tonight. As you get nearer the start of the season there is a step up in tempo as well as quality.”
Rovers go into tonight’s game having lost just one of their five previous warm-up matches - away at Rotherham United last Tuesday - despite having to field depleted squads.
“I was quite impressed with them (Rotherham) and they look like a side who are on the up,” said O’Connor. “When you move to a new stadium it gives the whole club a boost, and they look a team which is focused and hungry to do well.
“You are obviously always disappointed to lose games, although the emphasis is more on gaining match fitness and getting the team to gel. It hasn’t been ideal with the number of players we’ve have had to chose from.
“The manager has had to play some young lads in the team and from their perspective it has been a great opportunity for them.
“They might not start the season but the experience they will have gained will stand them in good stead if they are called up during the season.”
Although he missed the second half of the Rotherham game after suffering a thigh injury, and Saturday’s 0-0 draw with Sheffield Wednesday, O’Connor is happy with his fitness levels and could be involved tonight.
“I’ve had two 90 minutes so I’m not in bad shape,” he said. “Like all the lads I did some work during the summer before reporting back so that when you report back for pre-season training you get good scores in the various tests. Being professional footballers there is always a bit of a competitive edge.
“I wasn’t in bad shape at the start of pre-season training but I’m obviously fitter now. It’s the short and sharp stuff that you miss. That, and your touch on the ball, only comes from playing matches; there is no substitute for it.
“I love pre-season training and that has especially been the case this year having had such a long break, which was welcome to help get last season out of my mind.”