Niall Mason is relishing his first South Yorkshire derby today as Doncaster Rovers face in-form Rotherham United.
Versatile Mason, 21, missed the first meeting between the two rivals back in November when Kieffer Moore’s late equaliser earned the Millers a point after Richard Woods’s own goal had put Rovers in front.
“These are the games that you play football for,” said former Aston Villa youngster Mason.
“I was gutted to miss out last time.
“I experienced Grimsby home and away last season, but this is the big one that we’re all looking forward too.
“I’m buzzing for this one, I’ve never really experienced anything like it before. I have memories of the Youth Cup when I was at Southampton, playing Portsmouth in front of 15,000 for a youth game, but nothing quite like this.
“The manager wants us to play with high intensity and aggression and I think when we’ve been successful we’ve always been on the front foot and we got back to that last week,” he added.
That came in a 3-0 win over fellow strugglers Fleetwood Town, a vital win to create a buffer between Rovers and the League One drop zone.
Before that manager Darren Ferguson’s team had not won in nine outings, but Rovers look in better shape now with several injured players – including Mathieu Baudry, Luke McCullough and Alex Kiwomya – returning to fitness at the Keepmoat Stadium.
“Joe Wright isn’t far off, Andy Williams is back in training next week and Andy Butler isn’t far off either. It’ll be great to get them back,” said Ferguson.
“Baudry came back last week, so it’ll be great to have four big players back. With Luke McCullough and Alex Kiwomya coming back in too that’s a lot of freshness coming into the squad, we’re looking like we’re getting bodies back.
“When I looked at the fixtures and the week we had that was three games in eight days and we needed a freshener. The last time we did it we looked very fresh and we are preparing very well,” he added.