Jones is adamant Rovers will not rest on laurels

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In many ways, Rob Jones is a throw-back to the old-fashioned centre-half.

Tall, committed, honest, unselfish and a man’s man who leads by example.

Punt a ball into the box, and nine times out of 10 he will get his head on it and clear the danger.

There are more dimensions to him than just the one, though, especially given the amount of times he has played for Doncaster this season either carrying an injury or with a bandage around his head.

Jones is the Terry Butcher of League One, a fans’ favourite, the type of full-blooded player most clubs would love to have in their ranks.

Doncaster Rovers are grateful to have him at the heart of their defence.

Dean Saunders knew what he was getting in the summer when he landed him from Sheffield Wednesday, a great servant and a dependable lieutenant.

Jones has been a captain wherever he has been, and this season his guiding hand and experience has helped a squad of predominently new faces turn heads in League One.

“I don’t really have to shout at them,” Jones said of the players he leads.

“It’s a group where they take instruction very well, it’s a group where if you talk them through things, they understand.

“Being a captain is about working out which players like being shouted at and which don’t. It’s about the man-management side of it and I think I do that okay to be fair.

“It’s something that you have to do as captain, there’s no point shouting and screaming at people who don’t like it because you lose them for 25 minutes.

“I’m happy to do both and I’ve usually worked out who is what the first day I walk into a football club. I’ve captained every side I’ve played for.

“You want the best from yourself, your team-mates and for the football club and if I can help in any way I can I’m grateful to do so.

“This is a group that works hard for each other, helps each other, and it makes my job so much easier.”

The 6ft 7in defender from Stockton-on-Tees, who in 2007 captained Hibernian in the Scottish Cup final, is also completely unselfish, to the extent that he will not even entertain questions about his own ambitions.

“It’s not about me. It’s about the football club,” said the 33-year-old, who also has experience of playing in the Championship.

“I came to Doncaster because the gaffer wanted me here, it’s a good club, a great stadium, a good group of players and an excellent set of supporters.

“Reaching goals is the aim and I just want to play football.

“If that means getting back into the Championship then fantastic. If not, then I will re-evaluate at the end of the season.

“I know I can play in the Championship and this is about moving this football club forward, not about me trying to prove people wrong.”

Jones has been impressed with the commitment of all involved at the Keepmoat, and the fact that they share his principles.

It has all added up to a very strong start for Saunders’s squad, who know a win over MK Dons today, allied with other results going their way, would see Rovers Christmassing on top of the tree.

“It’s not surprised me because of the talent and investment,” said Jones of the side’s impressive first half of the season.

“We have an abundance of very good players and an abundance of experience.

“It’s up to us now as individuals and as a collective to continue that. The season is far from over, we’re in a position now where we can kick on.

“Who knows where the next 24 games take us, there’s an awful lot of points to play for.

“We can’t just rest on our laurels and think we’ve done well for the first half of the season and then let that peter away, that’s not what we’re here for or what we’re about. What we’re about is pushing on and making the second half of the season better than the first.”

To push on this week they need to respond quickly from last Saturday’s uncharacteristic slump at home to Coventry, when they were shocked 4-1 by the mid-table Midlanders.

The performance was bitterly disappointing for Rovers and led to a little soul-searching among the players.

Only once this season have Doncaster failed to respond to a defeat with a positive result, a resoluteness Jones believes will serve them well in the long run.

“Things were said afterwards, but it’s how you respond on the pitch,” he said.

“Talking’s only half the battle, if you don’t respond on the pitch then there’s no point talking.

“This is a good group of players and every time we’ve had a defeat, or a bad spell, we’ve responded and, hopefully, we’ll do that this weekend.”

Doncaster’s promotion push is set to be boosted by the return of James Coppinger.

The diminutive play-maker has been on loan at Championship side Nottingham Forest and was expected to sign at the City Ground permanently or move on in January. But Saunders, who met the board on Thursday, has been assured that he has the finances to keep the club’s highest-paid player at the Keepmoat.