Ambitious Rovers bring in duo to boost promotion bid

Robbie Blake.
Robbie Blake.
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DONCASTER Rovers manager Dean Saunders yesterday completed a double swoop for Robbie Blake and David Cotterill.

Veteran striker Blake had been released by Bolton Wanderers while Welsh international winger Cotterill finished last season on the books at Barnsley.

Both players will aim to help Rovers bounce back from relegation to League One.

Saunders praised Rovers directors John Ryan, Terry Bramall, and Dick Watson for allowing both deals to go ahead before money had been generated from summer sales.

“We have lost a couple of players this summer because we have not been able to move,” he said.

“But the season was getting closer and closer and the board wanted a good team. They are ambitious and they also want the club run properly. They realise that these two lads are good players and, in the end, they were pushing me to do it.”

Blake, 36, is a former Bradford City team-mate of Saunders who has also played for Darlington, Nottingham Forest, Burnley, Birmingham City and Leeds United.

He has signed a one-year deal with the option of a further year.

“Obviously, as a player you want to play at the highest level but I’ve done that,” said Blake. “Now I’m ready for a different sort of challenge at Doncaster. I spoke to the gaffer about the players that are already here – I think we have the quality to bounce straight back.”

Cotterill, 24, joined Wigan for £2m six years ago but moved to Sheffield United in 2008 where he struggled for consistency.

He moved to Swansea City and Portsmouth before joining Barnsley in February where he made only six appearances.

“This is the first time I have been in the position of not having a club in the summer,” said Cotterill, who worked previously under Saunders during his spell on the Welsh coaching staff. “I know I am still capable of playing at the highest level, it’s just a case of getting my confidence back.”

Midfielder David Syers – on a free transfer from Bradford – is the only other player to move to Rovers so far this summer.

Sheffield Wednesday goalkeeper Stephen Bywater has ended speculation about his future by signing a new one-year deal at Hillsborough.

Bywater, 31, joined the Owls from Derby County last season and played a key role in the club’s promotion to the Championship.

Manager Dave Jones, however, had signed former England goalkeeper Chris Kirkland with Nicky Weaver and Arron Jameson still in reserve.

“I was always going to sign as soon as I knew of the offer,” insisted Bywater. “This is the biggest club outside of the Premiership and that is fact.

“The challenge now is to do well in the Championship. If I didn’t think that was an option, I would not be here.””