Doncaster Rovers: How Grant McCann responded to questions about Niall Mason at Portsmouth press conference

It has been a difficult week at Doncaster Rovers but boss Grant McCann insists his side remain fully focused on winning promotion.

By Paul Goodwin
Thursday, 31st January 2019, 8:32 pm
Updated Thursday, 31st January 2019, 8:38 pm
Niall Mason, in action against Oldham last weekend.
Niall Mason, in action against Oldham last weekend.

Defender Niall Mason has been suspended by the club, pending an internal hearing, after being convicted of sexual assault on Tuesday.

The 22-year-old, who started last weekend’s FA Cup win over Oldham Athletic, was given a six month jail sentence, suspended for two years, and placed on the sex offenders' register for seven years. 

The story overshadowed Rovers reaching the fifth round of the FA Cup for the first time since 1956 but, ahead of his side’s trip to Portsmouth, McCann said his players remain fully focused. 

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“I’ve had difficult weeks before,” said McCann. “I’m really pleased to be at this football club and things like this you have to take on the chin.

“You have to manage different situations. Everything is not always rosy. There’s always problems, whatever football club you’re at.

“We’ve all rallied around each other this week and we’ll move onto Saturday.”

McCann has had his fair share to deal with since replacing Darren Ferguson.

Loan striker Mallik Wilks has also appeared in court charged with assault, the majority of the squad he inherited are out of contract in the summer, while Rovers this week also had to fend off interest from Sunderland in star striker John Marquis.

Yet Doncaster are still very much competing on two fronts – league and cup.

“It shows we’ve got characters in the squad,” said McCann.

“I’ve had a really good meeting with David [Blunt – chairman] regarding contracts and we’ll see that progress over the next couple of weeks.

“The boys are focused on one thing because ultimately for their careers and their futures, whether it be with Doncaster Rovers or someone else, a promotion from League One on their CV is only going to help them.”

Mason’s future will be resolved at an internal hearing next week.

“Yes, a few of the players are close to Niall,” said McCann on Thursday.

“But we all came in this morning, briefed the players a little bit and we cracked on.

“The boys looked really switched on and we’re only focused on one thing and that’s Saturday.”

He added: “Everybody at the football club was aware of it [the Mason situation].

“It happened before I came here so it was one of the first things the club spoke to me about.

“The club has made a statement and that’s all I want to say on the matter.”