Experienced centre back is O’Driscoll’s fourth signing of summer

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DONCASTER Rovers have snapped up former Leeds United centre-back Richard Naylor on a free transfer.

Naylor trained with Rovers last week but didn’t feature in their opening pre-season season game against local Northern Counties East League Premier Division Armthorpe Welfare last Thursday.

The 34 year-old Leeds-born defender was released by the Elland Road club, for whom he made 72 appearances in two seasons, at the end of the 2010-11 campaign.

A product of the Ipswich Town junior programme, Naylor was a striker earlier in his career but his progress was hampered by a series of injuries.

After helping the Suffolk club win promotion to the Premier League in the 1999-2000 season, Naylor found himself out of favour for two years until the club’s relegation and the arrival of Joe Royle as manager during the 2002-03 season.

It was Royle who converted Naylor to a central defender and he went on to play a key role for a number of years, captaining the side in his last season at Portman Road.

Following a successful spell on loan in the 2008-09 season, Naylor joined Leeds United in the summer and was installed as captain following the departure of Frazer Richardson.

Naylor was relegated to the bench, following the 5-2 defeat against Barnsley, for the visit to the Keepmoat Stadium last September when Leeds kept a clean sheet to deny Rovers second spot overnight.

He made his return to action, following a lengthy lay-off with a knee injury, when coming on as a second half substitute in United’s 5-2 win over Rovers at Elland Road in March.

With centre-back Shelton Martis facing several months on the sidelines following an ankle operation, and fellow defender Adam Lockwod also a couple of months away from being ready to challenge for a place in the side, and Wayne Thomas having being released at the end of last season, Rovers’ boss Sean O’Driscoll was anxious to bring in another centre-back.

“Richard is a leader and someone who everyone speaks highly of,” said O’Driscoll.

“We wanted someone at the back who has been there and done it and he will be a good influence.”

Naylor was due to travel up to Cumbria with the rest of the squad today. The three-day break at an outward bound centre will be followed by a second warm-up game at Barrow on Saturday.

Naylor is the fourth signing of the summer, following Tommy Spurr, Kyle Bennett and James Baxendale.