RICHARD CHAPLOW credits Mick McCarthy and Ipswich Town with giving him the “hunger back” after suffering a difficult couple of years in London.
Such is the life 0f a footballer, however, that the 30-year-old will tonight look to repay the Tractor Boys and their plain-speaking manager for his enjoyable loan spell at Portman Road late last season with an unexpected exit from the Capital One Cup.
“Anything in the cup is tasty,” said Chaplow, who moved to Doncaster Rovers on a free transfer from Millwall during the summer. “We will be looking to take the game to them and get our fans cheering.
“Everyone was disappointed after Saturday (and the 3-0 defeat at Port Vale). We were a bit off it in terms of pressing and closing down. We didn’t create enough chances in the final third.
“But we take the lessons of losing and try to be better for it. It is the only thing we can do.”
Rovers already have one Championship scalp to their name in this season’s League Cup after knocking out Leeds United on penalties in the first round.
With Ipswich sitting on top of the fledgling table after four games, tonight will be a huge test for Doncaster – even allowing for McCarthy indicating yesterday that youngsters such as Myles Kenlock, Josh Emmanuel, Josh Yorwerth and Irish midfielder Adam McDonnell are likely to feature.
Regardless of the starting XI, Chaplow, who swapped a relegation fight at The Den last March for a place in McCarthy’s promotion hunting squad, knows tonight will be a big test.
“The cup tie will be tough,” said Chaplow, who made six appearances on loan last term. “I have been down there very recently and so know what it is all about. I know what a competitive bunch they are. They know their roles and jobs on the pitch. Mick will have them at it.
“I enjoyed it down there, a fantastic time. I joined an environment that was thriving. I can’t speak highly enough about Mick and the lads and the coaching staff. They were exceptional.
“I felt very privileged to be part of that. I always wanted to play in a Mick McCarthy team. It gave me a taster of what football is supposed to be like.
“Coming off the back of a successful time at Southampton and then not so much at Millwall, it gave me the hunger back.
“For whatever reason, it didn’t’ get going at Millwall and I found it a struggle to get going, especially with the atmosphere round the place. At Ipswich, it was very easy because they want to win games.
“I feel to have joined a club in Doncaster that is very similar to Ipswich. There is a hunger here.
“I have always been hungry on a personal level, but in an environment that doesn’t seem to thrive on the same ambitions it can be hard.”
Doncaster’s performance at Vale Park in Saturday’s 3-0 loss left Dickov a frustrated figure on the sidelines.
Only the heroics of Thorsten Stuckmann in goal spared Rovers’ blushes and the club’s manager responded by bringing his players in on Sunday morning for a meeting.
“We were in on Sunday and we had a good, long chat about it,” said the Scot.
“The players know I still have a lot of belief in them, but that the performance on Saturday was nowhere near what I expect of them or what they expect of themselves.
“They demand more of each other and too many were not at it. There were strong words said but the reaction I got afterwards and in training has been really good.
“The players know the performance was way below what we expect, especially when we had been defending so well. The best thing about football, though, is you always have a chance to turn things around.”
Dickov will again be without injured duo Paul Keegan and Danny N’Guessan for a tie he admits will be a big test for his side.
The Rovers boss does have a pedigree for pulling off big upsets, though, with his time in charge of Oldham Athletic bringing a famous triumph over Liverpool in the FA Cup.
His Latics side also took Everton to a replay before bowing out and he is adamant that Ipswich must not be allowed to settle tonight.
“What we have to do is start on the front foot,” said the Doncaster chief. “It is a great game for us. They are top of the Championship and it will be a tough test.
“I have said all along that good cup runs are important to the club for lots of reasons. It breeds confidence in the players, it can bring a financial aspect to the club and it gives the fans a big boost as well.
“Everyone will be expecting Ipswich to win so it takes the pressure off us. We are capable of putting in a good performance.”
Last six games: Doncaster Rovers WDDDDL, Ipswich Town LDWWWW.
Referee: S Duncan (Northumberland).
Last time: Doncaster Rovers 0 Ipswich Town 3; December 26, 2013; Championship.