Doncaster Rovers v Fleetwood Town: Can McCann’s men get back on track by battering the ‘Cod Army’?

Doncaster's Alfie May: Aiming for starting role.
Doncaster's Alfie May: Aiming for starting role.
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Alfie May is relieved Doncaster Rovers are back playing at the Keepmoat Stadium today – it means he can avoid getting sacked.

For the Rovers striker is a fan of computer game Football Manager and used this week’s road trips to Plymouth and Accrington to hone his skills in the dugout.

Fortunately for Doncaster, the 25-year-old seems better suited to playing on the pitch, as opposed to his laptop.

He has helped Rovers climb to third in League One, and victory over visitors Fleetwood Town today would put pressure on top two Portsmouth and Peterborough United.

“To Plymouth, I took my laptop, watched some movies and played Football Manager at the back of the coach with the boys,” explained May.

“I have been sacked, but you just restart the game. It’s all good fun. I try to start low down, get the sack, then go somewhere like Manchester City with all the money.

I love coming into training, I come with a smile on my face every single day. This is a big thing for it’s my life. You have to train as you play.

Alfie May

“Plymouth was a long trip, then Accrington is two-and-a-half hours, but you just have to get on with it, that’s football, you have to travel to play games. It would be nice to come home and give the fans something.”

Rovers’ seven-game unbeaten run came to an abrupt end at Accrington Stanley on Tuesday evening, but May is hoping they can bounce back today against Joey Barton’s Fleetwood.

He said: “We were unfortunate not to come away with a win on Tuesday night, I thought we dominated some parts of the game.

“It was two chances for either side, they scored and we didn’t.”

May has been forced to stay patient for a starting role under coach Grant McCann – his only start came against Pompey in August – such has been the impressive form of Rovers’ forward line, including top-scorer John Marquis.

“You want to try the impress the gaffer,” said former non-league striker May.

“That’s not just in the game, but during training every day, working hard and trying to fight for the shirt.

“The front three have been superb, so coming on you really want to make an impact. It pushes you a little bit more.

“John has been flying, he’s unbelievable. In front of goal, his finishing is very, very good.

“There’s plenty of games to come, and, hopefully, I can get the chance and keep the shirt for five to 10 games, or more, get some game-time.

“I love coming into training, I come with a smile on my face every single day.

“This is a big thing for it’s my life. You have to train as you play.

“You work hard on the training pitch, then, hopefully, you get rewarded by starting. The gaffer isn’t scared to change things either, which is a good thing.

“I enjoy every single day. Speaking to family and friends at home, when I first moved up here they were worried how I would settle in, but I have made some great friends.

“There’s some games when I feel disappointed in myself, I feel like I could have done a little bit better. It’s tough coming off the bench, but it’s something you have to deal with. That’s football. You have to get your mentality right.”

Rovers chief McCann, 38, is a relative rookie, but today he comes up against former Manchester City midfielder Barton.

The 36-year-old is in his first management job, and McCann is delighted to see young managers getting a chance.

“I am sure he’s enjoying it,” said McCann. “Joey is a high-profile name in the game, and his move into management was good to see.

“It was good to see Fleetwood appoint him, Rangers appoint Steven Gerrard, and Derby appoint Frank Lampard.

“I think it’s great all these younger managers are getting the chance. They are big enough characters to deal with the pressure.”

The Cod Army have not won on their last six outings, but they beat Bradford City last month and thrashed one of McCann’s former clubs, Scunthorpe United, 5-0 in August.

He said: “We want a good reaction against a good Fleetwood team, who I know haven’t won for a few games, but have some good players. I watched them beat Scunthorpe 5-0 and it could have been 10-0. We know it will be another good game.

“The league is difficult. We need to get back on the horse – we fell off at Accrington – but we need to get back and go off on another run. It’s been an okay start for us. It’s a tough league, but I don’t think it’s as tough as it was last season.”