‘Thick skin’ helps Richie Wellens cope with doubting Doncaster Rovers’ fans

RICHIE WELLENS has broken his silence after being the target of the boo-boys at Doncaster Rovers.

Doncaster Rovers' midfielder Richie Wellens. Picture: Bruce Rollinson.

The 35-year-old was jeered in the 1-1 draw with former club Oldham Athletic on September 19, his first appearance after seeing a move to Wigan Athletic collapse just prior to the summer transfer deadline.

Wellens was keen to move closer to his family home in the north-west for personal reasons, with former boss Paul Dickov electing to keep him out of his final two matches in charge as he was not satisfied with his commitment to the Rovers cause.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

The schemer has got his head down since and cast aside his disappointment at seeing a switch fall through after being offered an olive branch by interim-boss Rob Jones.

And the Mancunian insists that whoever takes on the full-time Rovers’ reins, whether it is Jones or someone else, they can be guaranteed of his full and unstinting commitment.

As for supporters who barracked him, he will take that on the chin, while defending himself all the same regarding accusations that he has wanted to bail out on the club on separate occasions during his previous spells at the club.

Wellens said: “It’s unfortunate. But I have thick skin and have played almost 700 games.

“Something came up and I asked to speak to a club and obviously, it was closer to home.

“It came out of the blue and because of the location, it was good for me.

“I just felt the driving was affecting my training. People say that as you get older, you need to train less. I am totally the opposite.

“When you are driving, it doesn’t help you. I shouldn’t be doing it and I’d say to every single player at every football club, you should live within 20 miles of a football club and shouldn’t be driving so far.

“But the situation I’m in with my children on the other side (of the Pennines) it’s difficult to do.”

Rejecting notions he has asked to leave previously, he added: “A couple of fans had said to me: ‘Why did you want to leave?

“One of the fans also said: ‘It’s the third time you have asked to leave.’

“I have never asked to leave the club apart from the last time. I asked to speak to a club who are local; I am 35-years-old and have three kids and spend four hours travelling every day.

“The first time I left was when Leicester City wanted to sign me for £1.5m and the club accepted that. I didn’t ask to leave.

“The second time, I was out of contract and my contract ran out on January 1 and QPR wanted to sign me.

“I would have been stupid not to speak with them and I spoke to them and while I was speaking to them, Doncaster offered me a contract.

“At the end of the season, I had a clause in my contract where my wages went down 80 per cent from the Championship, but I also could speak to other clubs.

“I am a bit disappointed (some) fans feel that way. But in terms of moving forward, I am fully committed and always have been.”

Rovers are coming towards the end of their interview process after short-listing successful candidates in the running to replace Dickov as manager.

The club hierarchy are speaking to interim-boss Jones this week, with the likes of Lee Clark and Neil Redfearn, who both watched Tuesday night’s loss at York, also linked with the post along with Darren Ferguson.

Jones is not giving up hope of landing the full-time job despite a poor setback at Bootham Crescent, his third defeat in six outings in charge. But he admits the defeat wasn’t what he would have wished or saw coming.

He said: “The manner of the defeat wasn’t ideal for me and a great possible last game of the caretaker stint.

“But that’s football and we have to move forward and the club has to.

“If I am the right man for the job? Great. If not, I will support the new guy.”