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Southend v Doncaster Rovers: Rutless touch demanded by new manager Grant McCann

Grant McCann: happy with new signings.
Grant McCann: happy with new signings.
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LEAGUE ONE openers on the road have been somewhat kind to Doncaster Rovers in recent times.

The Keepmoat Stadium outfit famously kicked off the 2014-15 season with a 3-0 cruise at Yeovil Town under the command of Paul Dickov, their last first-day away appointment in the third tier.

The curtain-raiser to 2012-13 was similarly rewarding with Rovers easing to an identikit triumph at Walsall.

That campaign was one that ended in title silverware and promotion for Doncaster.

Few may be detecting a season quite as epic as that one, but there remains a quiet air of confidence that Rovers can surprise a few people this season.

The hopes of new manager Grant McCann have been fortified by the finalising of deals to bring in Paul Taylor (former Bradford City), Herbie Kane (Liverpool loan) and Romario Vieira (Leeds United), representing a welcome pre-season fillip ahead of today’s trip to Roots Hall.

McCann, who takes charge of a competitive fixture in the Rovers’ dug-out for the first time today, has promised plenty of entertainment along the way for supporters this season and has not shied away from talk of a possible play-off push either.

It remains to be seen whether Rovers last the course on that front, given that they lacked a hardened and ruthless edge in the final analysis last season and were viewed by some observers to be ‘too nice.’

It is something that McCann has also detected and is keen to change.

He said: “It does not have to be nastiness or anything like that, just the lads keeping on top of each other and keeping standards.

“That goes with a successful football team and we set those standards in La Manga (their Spanish training camp) in terms of the expectations.

“The players are well aware of what they have to do to be successful. It is about adding the finishing touches and making sure we are more ruthless in front of goal.”

Midfield player Ali Crawford (groin) has been passed fit for this weekend after suffering an injury scare in Rovers’ final warm-up game against Sheffield United.