DONCASTER Rovers’ defender Shelton Martis faces a late fitness test on a hamstring injury ahead of this afternoon’s crucial Championship relegation clash against fellow strugglers Crystal Palace at the Keepmoat Stadium.
Martis’s hamstring tightened up in the second half of last weekend’s 3-1 defeat at Hull City and he was brought straight off as a precaution.
Rovers have several options available to them and are unlikely to risk Martis should there be any doubts about his fitness - especially with another game at Barnsley on Easter Monday.
Martis, however, would be loathe to miss out after spending ten weeks on the sidelines after picking up an ankle injury in the New Year’s Day win over Scunthorpe.
“I didn’t think it too serious at the time but it turned out that I had a slight tear on the inside of my right ankle,” the centre-back recalled.
“If was frustrating being out so long because it was during the period when we were playing a lot of the games which had been postponed from earlier in the season due to the weather.
“I was back running about a month before I actually got back but I kept feeling pain in my ankle and went back to see the specialist. I was starting to think at that stage that I might not get back playing this season.
“I spent a lot of my time in rehab working to strengthen the ankle muscles and the joint felt nice and strong when I came back against Coventry. Since I’ve been back in full training I’ve trained like all the players apart from this week.”
Martis’s return to the side co-incided with an improvement in Rovers’ defensive displays.
“That’s why I was desperate to get back; we were conceding too many goals,” he said. “Having said that the number of injuries that we had didn’t help our cause.
“I have been happy with my form in most of the games I’ve played since I’ ve been back - though the last two have been too open - but for me I can always do better.
“There are tines when maybe I am doing things that I shouldn’t be doing. I’ve knocked some good long balls out of defence but I’ve also hit some poor ones as well.
“Prior to this week I’ve working hard in training on attacking headers. I got on the end of a corner in the Preston game. I was pleased to beat a defender to the ball I was disappointed that I didn’t get it on target. I know it struck a defender but it was going wide anyway.”
One of the things which have blighted Rovers’ campaign has been the constant personnel changes to their back-four. “Obviously it helps if you have a settled back-four because you all know what you are doing,” said Martis. “You just have to make sure that you communicate with the players around you. It helps that we play alongside different people in training but nothing can really prepare you for what happens in a game.”