Doncaster Rovers: Huge impact of giant skipper

Big benefit: Rob Jones' huge impact at Rovers has benefitted all the squad according to boss Brian Flynn.''         Picture: PA Wire
Big benefit: Rob Jones' huge impact at Rovers has benefitted all the squad according to boss Brian Flynn.'' Picture: PA Wire
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“It’s going to be a fun day and I’m sure we’ll all enjoy it.”

That is Brian Flynn’s verdict on ‘Rob Jones Day’ which will take centre stage at the Keepmoat on Saturday.

Rovers’ towering skipper will be honoured by the fan group Viking Supporters Co-operative as Rovers host Walsall with masks available for download from their website.

And Flynn is delighted to see his player-coach receive the plaudits.

“It’s a great idea,” Flynn said.

“It just shows you the impact Rob has made in such a short time at this club.

“That’s been huge and we’ve all benefitted from it.”

Ready to spoil the party are a Walsall side who have emerged from struggle to become genuine play-off contenders thanks to a superb run of form.

The Saddlers side that will visit the Keepmoat this weekend is much different to the one Rovers blitzed 3-0 on the opening day of the season.

After a patchy start, Walsall slumped and failed to win for 16 matches.

But since they ended that run, Dean Smith’s side have won nine of their last 11 games to move within four points of the final play off spot.

Flynn has certainly been impressed by the West Midlands outfit.

He said: “I like Walsall.

“Their strength is going forward and attacking teams.

“I’ve seen them numerous times this season and I’ve always been impressed with how they’ve played.

“Will Grigg is an international footballer at a young age and Fabian Brandy had an outstanding start to his career at Manchester United.

“I’m expecting an open game and I like those because I think we can score goals.

“Our back five will have to keep things very tight because give Walsall an inch and they’ll use it.”

Rovers are looking to bounce back following the end of their record-breaking run away from home in the league.

Prior to the 2-0 defeat at Bury last weekend, Rovers had gone 12 games unbeaten on the road in League One.

The good news for Flynn’s side is that history suggests Rovers will bounce back strongly.

Prior to setting a new record with the 2-1 win at Stevenage, Rovers previous best league away run was 11 games, achieved in three different seasons – 1946-47, 1968-69 and 2007-08.

Once those 11 match runs came to an end, Rovers bounced back with victory in the following game.

Rovers also went on to win promotion in each of those seasons, finishing as champions in 1947 and 1969.

The defeat at Bury prevented Rovers from matching the club record unbeaten away run in all competitions which stands at 13 from the 1946-47 season, with 11 league and two FA Cup games.

Flynn fully expects his side to respond well against Walsall.

He said: “I’m convinced last weekend’s game was a one-off.

“That’s especially so when you take into account we conceded two goals from set pieces which is unheard of from us.

“The best thing about it was that it didn’t do us much harm in the table.

“It’s a great bonus in terms of the league position.

“Teams are catching us up but I’d much rather be where people are chasing us than the other away round.”

Rovers still hold a two point cushion in the automatic promotion places as well as a game in hand – at home to MK Dons on Tuesday night.

Flynn will be without David Syers for Saturday’s clash after the midfielder suffered an ankle injury at Bury.

He said: “The initial diagnosis for David Syers is three weeks.

“Iain Hume is just not quite right yet and he’s been informed his injury is worse than originally feared so he’ll be out for another couple of weeks.

“Martin Woods is fine now. He trained all week and played a full game behind-closed-doors on Tuesday.

“That’s done him good and he’s in contention to return.”

Teams and ref

ROVERS (possible): Woods, Quinn, McCombe, Jones, Spurr, Cotterill, Keegan, Fowler, Bennett, Coppinger, Brown. (4-4-1-1).

WALSALL (possible): McLoughlin, Purkiss, Downing, Butler, Taylor,
A Chambers, Mantom,
Paterson, Baxendale, Brandy, Grigg (4-2-3-1).

James Adcock (Nottinghamshire): Has issued 58 yellow cards and two reds in 23 games this season.