CHAMPIONSHIP: ONCE upon a time, the headline ‘Keegan signs for Rovers’ would have stopped traffic in Doncaster town centre.
Although Irish midfielder Paul Keegan is probably never going to achieve the level of success enjoyed by former England captain Kevin, arguably the town’s most famous son, his arrival still marked a step in the right direction for both player and club.
Keegan, 26, has played the last six games for his new club amid an injury crisis that robbed manager Sean O’Driscoll of up to 14 players.
This afternoon, against Watford, Keegan is looking to enjoy a second victory which would also help settle a bout of nerves around the Keepmoat Stadium.
“Results have not been as good as everyone would have liked recently but we are on the way to fixing that,” he said. “Once we get everyone fit, we will be a very hard team to beat again.”
Dublin-born Keegan started his professional career at Leeds United but, after failing to make an impact at Elland Road, returned to Ireland to play for Drogheda and Bohemians.
It may have taken six years to get back into the English game but Keegan never lost confidence in his ability.
“I always believed that I could play at Championship level and it was only a matter of time,” he said. “I knew that if I got a chance I could take it and I now I am loving it at Doncaster.
“When I signed, I didn’t think I would play so many games but, due to the injuries, I have been lucky enough to play,” he added. “The fans have been brilliant and I still have a lot of friends in the area as I lived in Leeds for five years.”
Rovers halted a run of four consecutive defeats in a midweek draw at Norwich City but are 18th in the table, looking over their shoulders and abandoning any talk of play-off qualification.
As reported yesterday, chairman John Ryan will be sitting among supporters in the South Stand today and has called for unity and backed manager O’Driscoll.
Opponents Watford are without a win in eight games and the two clubs shared the spoils in a 2-2 draw at Vicarage Road five months ago.
O’Driscoll’s options have been bolstered in the last 48 hours by the return to training of midfielder Simon Gillett, defender Shelton Martis and striker Billy Sharp. Midfielder Mark Wilson makes his 150th appearance for the club.