Tough Test For Rovers

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DONCASTER Rovers will have to break new ground at Norwich tonight if they are to check their slide down the Championship table.

Rovers, who dropped a place to 17th following Saturday’s 3-0 defeat against Swansea at the Liberty Stadium, have lost all five of their league and cup games against the Canaries at Carrow Road.

Few of the fans making the long trek to East Anglia will entertain much hope of Rovers breaking their duck tonight.

Not only do City have realistic hopes of back-to-back promotions, but they are unbeaten at home in the Championship for over two months and will go into tonight’s match having collected a useful point from a 2-2 draw away to top-six rivals Leeds United at Elland Road.

The Canaries have had their problems of late with defender Leon Barnett facing a long lay-off with a hamstring injury and striker Chris Martin also sidelined with a hamstring injury.

Midfielder Simon Lappin had an appendectomy on Saturday.

Manager Paul Lambert moved to boost his squad yesterday by bringing in Blackpool defender on loan Rob Edwards.

But their troubles pale into insignificance compared to those affecting Rovers.

Rovers’ boss Sean O’Driscoll was unable to call upon 14 players on Saturday and the situation will probably be no better tonight.

Indeed, it could be eve worse if centre-back Sam Hird has suffered any reaction to the two dead legs and cut knee he suffered on Saturday.

O’Driscoll cancelled yesterday’s press conference at short notice and was playing his cards close to his chest prior to leaving for the team’s overnight hotel.

But he looks to have little or no room for manoeuvre.

James Coppinger, scorer of all three goals when Rovers beat the Canaries 3-1 at home in early September, would look to be a big doubt after pulling out of Saturday’s game after suffering a thigh problem in the warm-up.

The only good news may concern skipper Brian Stock.

The influential midfielder has missed the last two games with a back injury but was considered to have an outside chance of being fit over the weekend.

Rovers will come up against centre-back Elliott Ward in tonight’s game.

Ward, then a Coventry player, spent a successful spell on loan at Doncaster last season and Rovers targeted him during the summer after missing out on Jason Shackell.

But the big defender, whose spectacular overhead strike in the win at Hillsborough was a strong contender for the club’s goal of the season, chose to link up with the Canaries.

Rovers’ chairman John Ryan and fellow board members will swop their seats in the directors’ box for seats in the Polypipe South Stand in Saturday’s home game against Watford.

“There is no denying that these are difficult times for Doncaster Rovers on the pitch, with the list of injured players seemingly increasing week upon week,” said Ryan yesterday.

“Now is the time for everybody proud to call themselves a Rovers’ supporter to get behind the team.

“We need to pull all of our resources together and create a ‘blitz mentality’, ensuring that a wall of sound greets the players as they emerge from the tunnel. From that moment on the noise needs to continue and the encouragement to never cease, whether it be cheering, egging players on or having the drum being beaten at a thunderous rate to create a cauldron atmosphere.”