Bolton Wanderers v Doncaster Rovers: Jon Taylor set on bringing back positivity to the Keepmoat

The name of Jon Taylor in the Doncaster Rovers starting line-up to face Lincoln City on Saturday sent a current of excitement coursing through the regulars at the Keepmoat Stadium shortly before kick-off.

The sight thereafter of the familiar figure probing for space, demanding the ball and pressing defenders will have warmed the Rovers faithful who have been starved of positives in a wretched season.

Richie Wellens, a Rovers manager who can count himself unlucky not to have had a fully-fit Taylor at his disposal, was certainly happy to see the return of a player who can unpick opposition defences, an attribute Doncaster so desperately require.

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From the man himself, though, as much as the enjoyment at being back playing was obvious, he is not getting away.

BACK IN THE GAME: Doncaster Rovers' Jon Taylor, right, battles for the ball against Sunderland's Callum McFadzean in February this year. Picture: Richard Sellers/PA

Taylor has had too many setbacks to the rehabilitation of the ankle injury he first suffered in March to allow the excitement to overwhelm him.

“I’ve been out for nine months – I didn’t think I’d last 68 minutes on Saturday. But it’s good that I did,” says the 29-year-old, who hopes one last injection tomorrow after Doncaster’s trip to Bolton Wanderers tonight will complete the healing process.

“I will be relishing the prospect of being back only when I’m 100 per cent. Believe me, I can’t wait, but at the minute there’s limitations on me, my body will only let me do so much.”

He says he doesn’t feel ‘close’ to being back near his best but is eager to keep trying.

SUPPORTIVE: Doncaster Rovers boss Richie Wellens Picture: Nathan Stirk/Getty Images

In Wellens he has a manager who while desperate for a creative spark to get Doncaster scoring goals and moving up the table, will not mortgage either the team’s or Taylor’s long-term future for short-term gain.

“After 68 minutes on Saturday I was tired,” says Taylor. “With the pressing and getting in full-backs faces I was off the pace second half, so the gaffer has said to me you let me know how you’re feeling, which is good because it’s down to me to tell the truth and to be honest.”

He has already tried to come back once, too early, and suffered another setback, so he knows to take it steady.

Taylor has had two bouts of surgery to repair the ankle, and countless moments when the frustration could have got the better of him.

GOOD TIMES: Jon Taylor, right, celebrates his goal with Doncaster Rovers' team-mate James Coppinger against Accrington Stanley in December 2019. Picture: Marie Caley.

But a self-help book purchased during rehabilitation called Good Vibes, Good Life by Vex King has given him a new mindset.

“It’s never been as bad as this before, I’ve never felt like this,” he says of how low the injury could have taken him.

“It’s been a struggle, there’s no point lying.

“If you’re told you’re going to be out for nine months then you can plan for that, but I was only supposed to be out for three months.

“That is hard to have setback after setback and still not feel right.

“But you have to look forward, you have to think positively, you have to think that you’re going to get it sorted and you’ll get better. And I’m still on that journey.

“A great book from Vex King helped me, it’s about surrounding yourself with positive people and I loved it.

“Positive people at this club and positive people in every day life.

“If you surround yourself with negative people their negative vibes are going to rub off on you.

“It’s not what I needed at that time.

“It’s been a nightmare, it’s been hard, but I’m trying to stay positive.

“I do think I’ll come back a better player, I already think I’ve become a better person from it, so hopefully I can take that onto the pitch.”

Taylor wants to now bring that new-found positivity to his Doncaster Rovers team-mates.

When he looks at the table and sees them sitting second-from-bottom of League One he is ‘embarrassed’.

Away form that shows no wins all season he admits is ‘not good enough’.

“At the end of the day we know what we’ve got in this team, we know we can get out of it and I believe we will,” says the former Rotherham United winger.

“We’ve got to go away to anyone in this league and have it in our mentality that we can go and beat them.

“Obviously it doesn’t look like we can from the outside, but I believe we can beat anyone.

“On Saturday against Lincoln we showed some great stuff in our team spirit, our shape and how we worked as a team, it was just a bit disappointing not to use our attacking threat as well.

“If we can keep the resilience and bring in the attacking then positive results will come.”

Last six games: Bolton Wanderers LWDWDL; Doncaster Rovers DLDWWL.

Referee: S Martin (Staffordshire).

Last time: Bolton Wanderers 3 Doncaster Rovers 0; Championship; December 7, 2013.