AMID the all-consuming battle for points at either end of League One, tonight’s return to Checkatrade Trophy action could be viewed as little more than a distraction for Doncaster Rovers and Bradford City.
But the Yorkshire duo can seriously boost their hopes of progressing from the group stage with victory on home soil.
Doncaster, after suffering back-to-back defeats in the league and slipping to sixth place, host Grimsby Town knowing three points will be enough to draw level with the visitors after two of the three matches.
A win for Bradford, meanwhile, against Oldham Athletic would send David Hopkin’s men to the top of Group F and leave the onus on Barnsley and Everton Under-21s, who meet on November 9, to reel in the West Riding club.
For Rovers’ manager Grant McCann, twice a finalist in this competition as a player, bouncing back from those losses against Fleetwood Town and Accrington Stanley is paramount.
“We want to go as far as we can in the tournament whether I make changes or don’t make changes,” he said.
“It is a tournament that I have been involved in as a player and I have won it as a player. I have also been beaten in the final.
“Either way, it is a great day out in the final. We will sort a team out to go on the pitch to face Grimsby and decide whether to give players a rest or give others a chance.”
McCann’s appearances in the Wembley final came with Scunthorpe United in 2009 and then again five years later in the colours of Peterborough United.
He netted a late equaliser in the former, but Luton Town triumphed 3-2 after extra-time, while McCann lifted the Trophy with Posh courtesy of a 3-1 win over Chesterfield.
Nathaniel Knight-Percival was in the same Peterborough side that day and he could feature for Bradford tonight as Hopkin’s men look to build on last month’s 1-1 draw with Everton’s youngsters that yielded an extra point due to the Yorkshire side winning a penalty shoot-out.
Jim O’Brien’s hamstring injury means Hopkin is down to 16 senior players although Sean Scannell will play due to the suspension from his red card against Sunderland not counting in the Trophy.
Hopkin added: “This game against Oldham is a chance to give some players minutes who need them, though it will be a youthful team due to the injuries we have.”