AGGRESSION and hunger were two words that were conspicuous by their absence in reports of Doncaster Rovers’ passive loss to Sheffield United last weekend.
Seven days on and manager Darren Ferguson says no Rovers player will need to be told twice that a repeat today simply will not be tolerated.
With Barnsley seeking payback for the last-gasp defeat in the reverse fixture at the Keepmoat, this afternoon has the portents to be a spicy affair, with Ferguson happy to witness some aggression as long as it is channelled in the right way.
He said: “The meeting we had on Monday was a good one and there was nothing too unbalanced about it.
“We did our usual debrief and it was more about why we were not so aggressive and in their (Sheffield United’s) faces and we showed them certain things and wanted answers off them.
“We know where we need to go with it. We are on a bad run, there’s no disputing that. We want the right sort of aggression and I fully expect a performance I am going to be happy with.”
Ferguson says he has a blank canvas in terms of his starting line-up and believes that few players can have any grievance at being left out if he chooses not to pick them.
The hardest decision is likely to be in goal, with Thorsten Stuckmann now fit again and competing with loanee Chris Neal.
The Scot admits that in the longer term he is seeking to emulate the template of Barnsley in signing young talent specifically designated for inclusion at development squad level before being nurtured into the first team.
The Reds have raided non-league circles in the past 12 months to sign the likes of emerging talents Shaun Tuton, Harry White and Bradley Ash and brought in rookie players from several league clubs; Ferguson is keen to pursue a similar philosophy.
He says the club have not yet made a decision on the a successor to former development squad manager Rob Jones, adding: “What they’ve decided to do, which I think is a very good idea, and something we’re hopeful of doing in the long run is to invest quite a lot in their Under-21s.”