Up for the challenge

Ready to rumble: Rovers chief Sean O'Driscoll is backing his players to make the cynics eat their words.           Picture: Steve Parkin
Ready to rumble: Rovers chief Sean O'Driscoll is backing his players to make the cynics eat their words. Picture: Steve Parkin
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BOSS Sean O’Driscoll is banking on his Doncaster Rovers players to prove the sceptics wrong who have written off their hopes of staying in the Championship.

As the South Yorkshire club prepare to embark on a fourth successive season in the second tier of English football, the bookmakers have priced Rovers as one of the hot favourites to be relegated along with Barnsley.

With nine long-term injuries and having recorded just three league victories in 2011, it promises to be O’Driscoll’s toughest challenge since his appointment at the helm almost five years ago.

But O’Driscoll, the longest-serving manager in the division, thinks the bookies prediction will inspire rather than discourage his threadbare squad.

“I think the players will use that as something to galvanise them,” he said.

“I don’t think we are going to get worried about it.

“We are pragmatic about the season that we had last year but we are also pragmatic about the strength of the Championship and the size of the football club.

“We have tried to develop a niche in the market where we develop players. We are trying to move the football club forward. Sometimes you can’t always do that by spending millions upon millions if you have not got it. You have got to do it in other ways and that is what we are trying to do.

“We have got some talented players and young players who will be exciting. But they are young and you have to bear with them and give them the confidence to play.”

He cited Blackpool as a template for success: “They found a way of playing, threw caution to the wind and used the loan market very well.

“They sneaked into the play-offs and had a fantastic season in the Premier League so I think there is hope for everyone.”

Rovers are closing in on the signing of Rachid Bouhenna. The 20-year-old centre-back has impressed during a lengthy trial spell and O’Driscoll will meet with his representatives today to thrash out a deal.

“We hope to complete that deal in the next couple of days,” admitted O’Driscoll.

The Rovers boss is tipping Bouhenna to be a big hit but admitted: “He is going to find it difficult but his attitude has been first class. If he was an English player, I think he would be sought after by a number of clubs.

“He is a talent and he is desperate to play in England and learn the language. Yes, it is a risk but we think it is worthwhile.”

O’Driscoll has confirmed he has yet to make his mind up on fellow trialist Rowan Vine. The striker has been told he is surplus to requirements at parent club QPR.