Doncaster v Blackpool: Darren Ferguson is fan of much-maligned cup

The Checkatrade EFL Trophy has been battered from pillar to post this season, by manager, media and supporters alike.

Doncaster Rovers' manager Darren Ferguson (Picture: Bruce Rollinson).

A straightforward format has been changed to make way for a group stage that incorporates the Under-23 squads of only a handful of top-flight teams, those that opted into the competition.

What has followed is discontent among a large section of the League One and Two clubs who feel their own competition has been devalued.

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But from Doncaster yesterday came a dissenting voice, a manager that stood up for the much-maligned format.

Granted, Darren Ferguson has a lot to be chipper about at the minute. His team went top of League Two on Saturday, albeit despite a late defensive wobble against Stevenage.

He has just been nominated for League Two’s manager of the month award.

And Rovers have also scored the most goals in the top four division of English football – 42 – a statistic enriched by a member of his staff yesterday who told the Scot his team are the highest scorers in European football, although to compare a League Two team to Real Madrid or Barcelona may be stretching it a tad.

Nevertheless, Rovers are buoyant, and with a 12-game unbeaten home record to protect against Blackpool tonight, Ferguson has a number of reasons to maintain the momentum.

“The No 1 aim is promotion but this competition is not that far behind,” he said. “It’s a good tournament and it really does capture the imagination if you can go that bit further in it. All of a sudden people start thinking about Wembley. We’re not at that stage, but the important thing for me is to get through the early stages, and then go as far as we can.

“My mentality is I want to win every game. I think it’s been easy for some to use the competition as an excuse. The rules are the same for everyone, so just get on with it.

“For me, the Under-23 squad coming down has enhanced it. We played against Derby here and the front four were worth about £15m, which was a good test for my younger defenders. It’s been a challenge, it’s meant that I’ve got some of my younger players in the team, and I’ve enjoyed it.

“We’re proud we haven’t been beaten at home for 13 games and we want to keep that run going.”

Andy Williams is set to start after two months out (ankle), while Matty Blair is rested after getting married on Sunday.

Last six games: Doncaster Rovers LDWWWW Blackpool DWWLWW.

Referee: D Coote (West Yorkshire).

Last time: Doncaster Rovers 0 Blackpool 1; League One; March 28, 2016.