Gillingham v Doncaster Rovers - Captain Ben Whiteman aims for progress as Rovers eye a ‘big’ draw

Doncaster captain Ben Whiteman. PIC: Marie Caley.
Doncaster captain Ben Whiteman. PIC: Marie Caley.
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WITH THE ink still drying on his contract extension, Ben Whiteman can think of no better way than crowning it by playing his part in helping Doncaster Rovers securing more FA Cup kudos.

The Rovers captain, who has committed his future to the club until the summer of 2023, is entitled to hold fond memories of the Cup after playing a leading role in helping the club reach the last 16 of the competition last season for the first time since 1956 – equally the furthest that the club have gone in the world’s most enduring knock-out competition.

Doncaster manager Darren Moore.  PIC: Jonathan Gawthorpe.

Doncaster manager Darren Moore. PIC: Jonathan Gawthorpe.

The Lancastrian netted twice to book Rovers’ place in the fifth round after a 2-1 win over Oldham in January and now has his sights set on the club securing more headlines.

Whiteman said: “It is the oldest competition in the world and sometimes, it does not get treated like that and it is definitely not the case here. We want to progress and hopefully draw a big team.

“As people saw last year against Crystal Palace, we had a good go, But their quality in the first half showed why they are Premier League players, but it was just enjoyable to test yourself against them.”

Outstanding again this season, Whiteman’s stock is high, hence Rovers’ decision to push to ensure that their star asset is contracted at the club for an extended spell, to guarantee themselves an element of protection if clubs make a big-money move for the 23-year-old.

Hull City, managed by ex-Rovers chief Grant McCann, are known admirers of Whiteman and saw a deal rebuffed in the summer with his performances having also drawn interest from a number of other rival clubs.

The decision of Whiteman to commit to the club enables Rovers to be in a strong bargaining position if teams do push the boat out to sign the player, although many suspect it is a case of when not if the midfielder makes a move to the Championship club.

For his part, Whiteman is relaxed about his situation.

He added: “I have obviously signed a new contract and if it (promotion) does not happen this year, then we will see.

“Obviously, I do not know what is going to happen in January or the summer. I just going to focus on the here and now and Doncaster Rovers.

“It has been a bit stop-start with games getting called off and international breaks, it has been tough. Hopefully now coming into the winter months, we can get a little bit more momentum and start winning games.”