Doncaster Rovers v AFC Wimbledon – No excuses from Richie Wellens despite tough pre-season

Richie Wellens says Doncaster Rovers will have to rely on experience in the opening weeks of the new League One season, and hopes they have got their bad luck out of the way.

Wellens takes charge at home to Wimbledon today still hoping to add to his squad after a Covid-19-disrupted pre-season. Regardless, he would not expect his players to be firing on all cylinders.

“They haven’t played a competitive match,” he stressed. “When I was a player I needed three games to get truly up to speed and if you’re not you trust your professionalism – can you manage the times where you are feeling a little bit tired? Can you be in control of the ball, can you control the opposition when you haven’t got the ball and get a rest then?”

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Budget constraints and injuries have made it a difficult first pre-season for Wellens, who loaned goalkeeper Pontus Dahlberg from Watford yesterday but hopes to eke more funds out of the board as he struggles to move players on.

Doncaster Rovers manager Richie Wellens shouts instructions from the touchline during pre-season. Picture by Steve Flynn/

“In an ideal world I’d like a holding midfield player, two No 8s to give us cover for Matt Smith and Ben Close and with the injury to Jordy Hiwula, I think we need a player to play wide who can be explosive, quick, get past people and get us up the pitch,” he said.

“If you’re losing 10 players for 10 days (to Covid-19 isolation) and then those players return and you lose another two, it’s so difficult to manage. We can give them as much information as possible, show them videos, tell them and write things down but they need to go out on the training pitch and practice what we’re asking them.

“No one’s been in this scenario before but under no circumstances will we use it as an excuse.

“I hope we’ve had our case in pre-season because if I have to miss 10 players in the season that could potentially be three games and a hell of a lot tougher.”

LOAN STAR: Watford goalkeeper, Pontus Dahlberg has been brought in by Doncaster Rovers' boss Richie Wellens. Picture: Dan Istitene/Getty Images)