RICHIE WELLENS may have missed Doncaster Rovers’ last two matches after accumulating 10 bookings, but he remains very much the coolest of heads.
That is the view of manager Paul Dickov, who is expected to recall his main man in midfield into the starting line-up for this afternoon’s key survival trip to Yeovil.
The 33-year-old is available again after sitting out the games against Barnsley and Brighton and Hove Albion and Dickov, while pleased with the recent contributions of Dean Furman and Paul Keegan, is fully expected to turn to Wellens’s leadership skills and hand him a recall for such an important game.
Dickov said: “I thought Dean and Keegs did really well for me on Saturday, so it’s another decision for me to make.
“But Richie can give you that one defining moment in games, whether it’s a defence-splitting pass or a little bit of skill.
“His ball retention for us is fantastic. He doesn’t panic under pressure and demands good standards off his team-mates as well.
“Last Saturday, with Richie in the team, we possibly wouldn’t have dropped as deep as we did as well. It’s about composure on the ball, but also being compact as a team as well. More often that not, we have done that recently.”
Another seasoned figure in the Rovers line-up has also provided some seismic contributions of late, namely James Coppinger, who celebrates a well-deserved testimonial this summer and who is keen to extend his stay.
The attacking midfielder, out of contract in June, is doing his level best to earn a new deal, with his double going so close to earning Rovers three priceless points against Barnsley.
Dickov admits to being thrilled with his recent contributions, with the recharging of Coppinger’s batteries over the festive and early New Year period having had an illuminating effect in Rovers’ upturn this year.
The Rovers chief, anxious for Coppinger to continue to step up to the plate between now and May, added: “James has been fantastic. He was struggling a little bit before Christmas with a couple of niggling injuries and we made the decision to give him a couple of weeks off to completely recover, but not to enjoy his Christmas too much!
“But, to be fair, it’s worked and he’s come back absolutely flying and has shown over recent weeks what a big player he is.
“People talk about the goalkeeper (Luke Steele) making a mistake last weekend. But at the start of the season, James maybe wouldn’t have been in that position in the box to tap it in, while with the second goal, he gambled and got his rewards going into the box.”