Doncaster Rovers chief Andy Butler keeping players on track

Plenty to ponder: Doncaster Rovers interim manager Andy Butler.Plenty to ponder: Doncaster Rovers interim manager Andy Butler.
Plenty to ponder: Doncaster Rovers interim manager Andy Butler.
As teams in the Premier League and Championship go into the international break, Doncaster Rovers interim manager Andy Butler will have to continue to carefully monitor his players’ workloads.

Rovers have a rare midweek without a game, but are back to it with a League One match at Milton Keynes Dons on Saturday, the first of 12 between now and May 8. The hope is that there will be more beyond that, because even after two wins in 11, Doncaster are in the play-off positions.

It means Butler will have to marshal his resources carefully, at times leaving out players who have been performing well. James Coppinger scored one goal and made the other in Saturday’s 2-2 draw at Gillingham, but at 40 years old cannot be expected to play 90 minutes twice a week.

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“We have data on the GPS system and there’s been a couple of players recently who have exceeded their work limits,” explained Butler, part of the playing squad until taking over from Darren Moore until the end of the season. “I know it sounds strange that people can’t play 90 minutes then 90 minutes but you have to manage certain situations and knocks.

“You have to be careful. You’d rather miss 45 minutes than two or three weeks.”

Despite Butler’s caution, injuries are starting to mount in a small and youthful squad, but he is determined to see the positives.

“It will be good to have a bit of training with the lads to work on a few things,” he said. “We’ve not really had that since I took over, so we’ll have a look at who needs a rest and who needs a bit more intensity in their legs.

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“When you lose important players it is difficult but I keep saying ‘grasp your opportunity’. That’s why players are here.

“Because of all the regulations it’s difficult to get game-time into the players not playing.”

One of the beneficiaries has been 20-year-old full-back Branden Horton, who made his League One debut from the bench at Oxford United last week, and followed it up with a start against Gillingham.

Rovers will be without Matt Smith at Stadium MK as the midfielder has been called up by Wales. Youngster Liam Ravenhill is in Northern Ireland’s Under-21 squad but having lost his place as first choice, goalkeeper Ellery Balcombe has been overlooked by England Under-21s for their European Championship group stage matches against Switzerland, Portugal and Croatia.

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