Doncaster Rovers v Rotherham United: Will Grigg provides interesting subplot to derby clash

AS someone with a fair bit of knowledge of the South Yorkshire football scene in his capacity as a player and now a coach, Matt Hamshaw’s comments are always worth listening to.

Rotherham United striker Will Grigg opted to join Millers on loan, rather than moving to tonight’s hosts Doncaster Rovers. Picture: Frank Reid

When asked if Rotherham United striker Will Grigg’s decision to snub Doncaster Rovers and move to the Millers on deadline day would provide a liberal helping of spice to tonight’s Trophy meeting, Hamshaw’s answer said it all.

The Millers’ first-team coach, who hails from Rotherham and started his football career at Sheffield Wednesday, told The Yorkshire Post: “I don’t think it needs any spice adding any way, does it..”

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Games in this much-derided competition often disappear into the ether, especially in the early part of the new season.

There is not much danger of tonight’s meeting doing that, given that Rovers suffered a bruising league defeat to the Millers just 10 days ago.

Those Millers supporters who will make the short trip up the M18 in numbers this evening would also like nothing better than for their side to increase the gloom for their neighbours, who have suffered a wretched start to the new campaign.

An intriguing subplot could see Grigg, who joined the Millers on a season-long loan in preference to Rovers, make his debut, while a new striker in home colours is also set for his maiden appearance.

The decision of Grigg to reject the overtures of Richie Wellens, who was desperate to bring in the Sunderland frontman and the subsequent failure to get a deal to sign another Black Cats player in Aiden O’Brien over the line saw the Rovers chief switch his attentions on a striker he already knew a bit about.

The player in question being forward Joe Dodoo, a young attacker of promise during Wellens’s time as a midfielder of note at Leicester City. Dodoo, 26, a free agent who has spent spells in the past two seasons at Wigan and Bolton, has signed a two-year deal and represents a badly-needed and timely new striking option for beleaguered Rovers.

While Doncaster followers will perhaps provide bouquets for Dodoo, the brickbats might just belong to Grigg.

Hamshaw added: “I think with the Rotherham and ‘Donny’ fans, it is always kind of lively.

“I am sure Doncaster fans will probably give Will Grigg a little bit.

“But it is nothing other than he’s received for most of his career when he has gone to places as better players always tend to get a bit more stick.

“It will be no different to when we played Plymouth with Freddie (Ladapo).

“It does happen and I think it will probably add a little bit more edge from a supporters’ point of view.

“But purely from a business and game point of view, I don’t think it will affect Will in the slightest.”

As for his own new acquisition in much-travelled striker Dodoo, Rovers chief Wellens said: “Back then at Leicester, he was a tricky winger who was tall and slight.

“Physically he has developed into a really good specimen and is physically very powerful and a really good size and has now developed into a number nine.

“He has good experience and some really good clubs.

“He has the opportunity to come in here and be one of our best players and at 26, he is a good age.

“Hopefully, he can find a home and really hit a purple patch and we are hoping Joe is at that stage of his career now where he can find a home.”

While Dodoo is set for an immediate introduction to the Keepmoat faithful tonight, the potential involvement of another forward in Jordy Hiwula, yet to feature due to injury after joining the club in the close season, would also be significant.

A precursor to a change in fortunes for Rovers perhaps? It’s a case of whispering it gently.