Doncaster Rovers v Charlton Athletic: Coppinger is already looking beyond 500-game milestone

James Coppinger is hopeful of earning a new contract from Doncaster Rovers for next season (Picture: Marie Caley).
James Coppinger is hopeful of earning a new contract from Doncaster Rovers for next season (Picture: Marie Caley).
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James Coppinger, who prepares to make his 500th league appearance for Doncaster Rovers today, has no intention of hanging up his boots.

The 37-year-old will reach the milestone today when Rovers host Charlton Athletic at the Keepmoat Stadium.

Coppinger first signed for Rovers in 2004, the Middlesbrough-born midfielder going on to become a favourite with the fans.

He has seen managers like Sean O’Driscoll, Dean Saunders and Paul Dickov come and go, but Coppinger is showing no signs of slowing down.

“It’s probably one of those things that you don’t reflect on when you’re playing,” said Coppinger on his 500-match milestone. “When I stop, eventually, I will look back on it and appreciate more.

“When you are playing with players who are a lot younger than you, you don’t have time to dwell on it.

“I signed a three-year deal here at 30, which not many people do, and I was probably playing the best football of my career.

“I am still here at 37, enjoying my football. I’m still fit, still healthy and still contributing to the side. Maybe my shift from the wing to the centre of the pitch has helped me, but I’m still running as much as anyone else.

“When you look at the stats, the Scunthorpe game I ran more than anyone else playing through the middle and that shows I’m still working hard and doing all the things I was doing when I was younger, so nothing has changed.

“I wake up every morning feeling fresh and with the desire to help improve this team and be successful and long may it continue.”

Coppinger’s current deal expires in the summer, but he is hoping his form will convince Rovers manager Darren Ferguson to give him a new contract.

If not, Coppinger is adamant he will carry on playing elsewhere. “There’s no reason why I can’t be playing football next season, or won’t be,” he said. “One hundred per cent I want to be playing football.

“I don’t wake up in the morning thinking, ‘I don’t want to do training’ or ‘my legs are hurting’.

“Next season is something I definitely want to be part of and hopefully, fingers crossed, something will happen.

“It would be nice to finish here (at Doncaster), having been here so long, but things don’t always happen the way you want them to. There’s no reason to stop playing; if not with Doncaster, it will be with somebody else.”

Ferguson believes Coppinger is a great role model for Doncaster’s young players.

Apart from a brief loan spell at Nottingham Forest in 2012, the midfielder has been an integral player at the Keepmoat,

“James has achieved so many different milestones at this football club, which is a credit to him. He keeps going and going and has done well again this season to play so often,” said Ferguson.

“He’s one of the things you think of when someone talks about Doncaster Rovers. That’s how I felt when I managed against him and he’s had the longevity in his career by looking after himself.”