CAPTAIN Richie Wellens has called on Doncaster Rovers’ players to be mentally strong to achieve their goal of Championship survival.
Rovers, who have lost their two games in league and cup so far in 2014, achieved their best result of the embryonic year on Wednesday when instrumental midfielder Wellens, outstanding all season, agreed a new 18-month deal after several weeks of speculation.
It has served as a major boost for Paul Dickov and his depleted squad, still without a number of senior players for today’s trip to Ewood, which sees lowly Rovers renew acquaintances with old boy Tommy Spurr.
Rovers can achieve their first double of the campaign with victory today, but are considerably more injury-struck than when they beat Blackburn in the early stages of the campaign.
In recent weeks, Rovers’ resources have been stretched so much that they have had to field two rookie teenagers in the backline in Liam Wakefield and Luke McCullough.
The club have had it tough since the end of November both in terms of players available for selection and results, having gone eight games without a win.
Wellens, who turned down a short-term deal with QPR, who were fortunate to beat Rovers in the league on New Year’s Day, to sign an 18-month contract, said: “Hopefully, we can start climbing the table as there’s no-one who hates losing more than myself.
“Even though we lost at QPR, it was a good performance and there’s been a few more games where the performances have been good, but we’ve actually lost the games.
“If we can carry on the performances and just get a bit mentally stronger and get these players who have been injured back out there, we can be a lot better.
“We started off the season and, after the first 10 games, we had done pretty well. But then we had injuries to the likes of Rob Jones, Paul Keegan and Chris Brown and that disrupted us.
“Also, I don’t think we really recovered from the (abandoned when Rovers were winning) Charlton away game, to be honest.
“Recently, we have been having the young lads at the back and if you are putting one 18-year-old lad in, it’s all well and good. But when you are putting two in, it’s really difficult as it’s such a physical league and they need time to grow and mature; especially defenders.
“If you are a young striker, you can just do what you want. But as a defender, it is more difficult.
“I know the club are looking at trying to get a couple more in and Paul is trying to do as much as he can and the finances will dictate that.”
Today’s game is Rovers’ first visit to Ewood Park since 1970, when they locked horns with Blackburn in a League Cup tie.
Doncaster last visited Blackburn for a league game over 55 years ago in 1958 and have never won in that particular corner of Lancashire.