Doncaster Rovers: Promotion rivals could Copp it says Buckley

James Coppinger
James Coppinger
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ASIDE from the obvious Rob of the Rovers stoppage time header, there was one moment that stood head and shoulders above the rest at Stevenage.

It came from the boot of James Coppinger, a late and enthusiastic substitute making his 300th league appearance for Rovers no less.

His delicious dink over the top of Boro’s back four, which ultimately led to Iain Hume’s Johnny-on-the-spot equaliser, officially kick-started his Doncaster return.

And according to former Rovers wing man John Buckley, Coppinger should now come to the fore as a major cog in Doncaster’s promotion bandwagon.

Coppinger’s moment of precision and panache at The Lamex has also handed Brian Flynn and Rob Jones their first major dilemma since temporarily taking the reins.

So far the pair say that have agreed on everything, which is no surprise given the momentum and consistency currently oozing from Rovers.

But as Doncaster prepare to host Leyton Orient tomorrow, weather permitting, the management duo pick up the baton of attempting to translate the club’s record-breaking away form into more points at the Keepmoat Stadium.

Rovers have struggled to get behind teams on home soil, often lacking that creative spark and relying too much on David Cotterill’s wand of a right foot to bail them out.

But the key to unlocking more visiting defences, says Buckley, could be Coppinger, who the current Doncaster Rovers Belles boss describes as one of the best players he has seen play for Rovers - and says could play in a variety of positions.

“I would never not play Coppinger, I think he’s that good,” said Buckley, who earned the nickname ‘Road runner’ during his time at Doncaster in the Eighties.

“He probably needs a bit of time to get back in the swing of things, but the quality he can give you is unquestionable.

“I would maybe even change the system to accommodate him.

“He could play behind the striker. I could see him fitting into that role very nicely, although Iain Hume’s doing well in there at present.

“Or if they play five across the midfield he could play inside no problem.

“There are other areas he could play in addition to the wide areas.”

There has been no need for even minimal changes since Flynn and Jones took over, although the pair are keen to make their own mark on the solid foundations laid by Dean Saunders.

Chris Brown for Emile Sinclair was the only change at Stevenage, and Brown went on to produce arguably his best performance of the season. After coming off the bench to brilliant effect on Saturday, appearing sharp and hungry, whether to find a starting place for Coppinger against Orient is their only dilemma this weekend.

Buckley certainly would, and he is unequivocal in his praise for Rovers’ longest serving player.

“James is one of the best players I’ve seen play for Doncaster,” he said.

“I enjoy watching him.

“Some people might say he’s a bit inconsistent but even in the games in which he is quiet he never has a stinker.

“He’s got that wee bit of class about him, he’s always liable to open up a defence.

“I’m a big, big fan of his.

“Kyle Bennett’s got the capability of being a top player, he probably needs a bit of a run in the side to hit top gear.

“And no one can doubt the quality that David Cotterill has brought to the club. He’s a good finisher and his set pieces are superb.

“But, for me, James Coppinger is still the best wide player at Rovers.”

With continuity as their blueprint, Flynn and Jones will be reluctant to rock the boat even in the slightest.

But bringing Coppinger in from the cold could turn the heat on Orient - if the game beats the big freeze.