The Keepmoat Stadium is probably one of the unlikeliest candidates for the mantra ‘the unofficial home of Welsh football’, but with six of the current squad of Welsh decent it certainly has as good a claim as anywhere else. And now this Welsh footballing outpost has finally been recognised by Wales manager John Toshack who has called up defender Stephen Roberts and Brian Stock to the national squad for next week’s friendly with Luxembourg.
Rumours have abounded for weeks that the pair would feature in Toshack’s plans soon enough, with many Wales fans surprised by Stephen Roberts omission from the squad that faced Norway at Wrexham last month. However, with Stephen Roberts sidelined by a foot injury it was felt that the Rovers defender would be overlooked in favour of Stockport County’s Ashley Williams. Instead Tosh has given both Roberts and Williams the chance to impress; allowing Roberts to build on his previous solitay cap gained against Hungary in Toshack’s first match in charge.
Brian Stock also has previous Welsh international experience, gaining four caps for the under-21s whilst at Bournemouth. The midfielder was on the verge of the full national squad whilst with previous club Preston in the Championship, but with rumours of a fall-out with John Toshack Stock has never made the senior squad until now. With the Wales manager often preferring to play with a central midfield three the stage could be set for Stock who will be one of few players playing in such a formation every week.
The downside as far as Rovers fans are concerned is the fact that Wales trip to Luxembourg on Wednesday 26th March falls just two days away from two key home games in the Rovers promotion push. As such Doncaster could be without Stock and Roberts for the home match against Oldham Athletic on Easter Monday and the key fixture with Nottingham Forest at the Keepmoat Stadium on Friday 28th April.
In the mean time however, congratulations must go to Stock and Roberts who are certainly deserving of their place in the Wales squad. The two are the first Rovers players to be called up for one of the home nations since Alan Blayney’s call-up for Northern Ireland in 2006.
Wales squad in full:
Goalkeepers: Lewis Price (Derby County), Boaz Myhill (Hull City)
Defenders: Richard Duffy (Portsmouth), Neal Eardley (Oldham Athletic), Craig Morgan (Peterborough United), Lewin Nyatanga (Barnsley), Sam Ricketts (Hull City), Ashley Williams (Stockport County), Stephen Roberts (Doncaster Rovers)
Midfielders: Andrew Crofts (Gillingham), Aaron Davies (Nottingham Forest), Simon Davies (Fulham), David Edwards (Wolverhampton Wanderers), Carl Fletcher (Crystal Palace), Owain Tudor Jones (Swansea City), Jason Koumas (Wigan Athletic), Joe Ledley (Cardiff City), Brian Stock (Doncaster Rovers)
Forwards: David Cotterill (Wigan Athletic), Jermaine Easter (Plymouth Argyle), Freddy Eastwood (Wolverhampton Wanderers), Daniel Nardiello (Barnsley)