Doncaster Rovers v Blackpool: Rookie showing he is made of the Wright stuff

Making a mark: Joe Wright challenging Bradford's Dominic Poleon.
Picture: Bruce Rollinson
Making a mark: Joe Wright challenging Bradford's Dominic Poleon. Picture: Bruce Rollinson
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Joe Wright is determined to grasp his chance at promoted Doncaster Rovers.

The 22-year-old rookie defender has started all three games for Darren Ferguson’s side, who have pocketed a couple of eye-catching results in the opening fortnight.

Rovers failed to win their final five games of last season – losing the last four – as they let the League Two title slip from their clutches.

That mini implosion left most folk outside of the Keepmoat Stadium with little expectation when they kicked off life back in League One.

A 0-0 draw at home to Gillingham hardly set pulses racing, but impressive back-to-back wins at Bradford City – in the League Cup – and Blackburn Rovers has seen confidence levels soar.

Today, Rovers welcome Blackpool – another club promoted last term – to South Yorkshire, with Wright looking to retain the jersey.

“Four points, I think it’s a better return than maybe a lot of people thought we would get,” said Wright.

“But, as a group, a team, we believe in each other and have a great team spirit.

“It’s been a positive start. I thought the performance in the Gillingham game merited a win.

“Obviously, the wins against Bradford and Blackburn are two very good wins against big teams in our league.

“The Bradford game was in the cup, but it puts a marker down that we are more than capable.

“We dominated that game, and 3-2 probably flattered them. We were a lot better than them on the day.

“Blackburn will be up there, they are a big team in League One. For us to go there and put in the performance that we did, speaks for itself.”

Wright started his career with Huddersfield Town, and the Wales Under-21 defender impressed last season, unlucky not to get a run of games.

Now he is determined to seize his chance and force manager Ferguson to keep him in the team.

“I have started all right,” he said. “I always thought if I got a run in the team, I would do well. I think I was a bit unlucky last season.

“When I came into the team last year, on the majority of occasions I did all right.

“I expect a lot more from myself if I get a run in the team. It’s all about getting that experience, playing alongside Butts (Paul Butler) and learning from him.

“Some people don’t like getting criticism, but I don’t mind, they are only trying to help me.

“This season is all about getting a run in the team, staying there, and keeping my performances consistent.

“That’s a key thing for myself, the gaffer has touched on that with me, to get that consistency, not try to over-complicate things, and stick to what I am good at.

“When I was out of the team, I did a lot of work, passing into midfield, knowing when a pass is on. It doesn’t always have to be a killer pass, sometimes you just need to keep the ball.”

Rovers lost to Blackpool three times last season, twice in League Two plus an exit on penalties in the Checkatrade Trophy. Both Wright and Ferguson are expecting a challenging game today.

“It will be a tough game,” said Wright. “We played them last season and they beat us a couple of times, so we are taking nothing for granted. We showed last season that we are a good home team, this was a bit of a fortress then, so we just need to keep that up.”

Ferguson added: “They’ve got a lot of good attributes in their team, they’re an energetic side with a lot of pace in that side.

“They’ve played three different formations in their three games so they’re very flexible. We need to make sure we have control of the ball because they will cause us problems.

“It’ll be a difficult game, but we’ve got great energy and they’ll have to match that, we have to stay patient and make it tough for them.”

A good indicator of a side, is the strength of their substitutes bench.

At Ewood Park last weekend, Rovers had the likes of Craig Alcock, Andy Williams and Alfie May named as replacements.

“I thought we were very strong on the bench last week, when I look at an opponent, I look at their bench and see the depth of the squad and, for me, we look a lot stronger,” continued Ferguson.

“Alfie May’s got two in two and looks a real threat off the bench, and he took his goal on Saturday really well. He’s been very good coming on, and, with Mandeville and Williams, I’ve got really good options there.”