Its Tuesday night, its football night. Thanks to rearrangements and Cup replays Rovers are playing as many midweek games as they are Saturdays at current, with matches on five out of six Tuesdays from mid January through to St Davids Day. Tonight’s game against Burnley is a rarity in that run, it being the only one of those five to appear on the initial fixture list, and hopefully it will mark a turning point two with Rovers last two Tuesday outings having brought no goals for and seven against. Currently, in the words of The Cure; Tuesday’s grey.
If you caught Friday’s episode of our Viva Video feature then you’ll be aware that tonight’s match represents a reunion of two men who worked closely at Bournemouth. Eddie Howe played under Sean O’Driscoll at Dean Court, and indeed played alongside James Hayter and Brian Stock for the Cherries, prior to becoming the club’s youngest manager at the age of 32. Given that in the past twelve months I have on more than one occasion seen 54 year-old Sean O’Driscoll described as “one of the country’s best young managers”, Howe is practically a managerial amoeba.
O’Driscoll and Howe (which really should be the name of a cheesy US cop show) both enjoyed success on the South Coast and achieved promotion from the fourth tier with Bournemouth. O’Driscoll’s play-off success of 2002 matched by Howe’s unlikely automatic promotion of last season. To continue the links between the two Howe now finds himself at the helm of Burnley, a club which notably courted the services of Sean O’Driscoll a year ago. As such it was interesting to see the Rovers manager quoted on the Burnley website as saying of Howe’s move to Turf Moor; “I thought it was a good club for him. Burnley gives him an opportunity with good resources and a good set of players to take the next step.”
On to the matter in hand and Burnley, currently tenth in the Championship and looking upwards rather than down, represent a significant challenge for Rovers tonight. The two clubs have very differing records coming into this match, Burnley are undefeated in five, whilst Doncaster have gone six games without victory since the New Years Day derby demolition of Scunthorpe. If you’re of the clutching at straws type then good news; Burnley play in claret and blue too. The concerns for Rovers remain two-fold, how will the club react and respond to recent form and an increasing injury-list? And will we ever have a decent second half? Against a Burnley side who have taken 19 points from matches in which they have been in losing positions this season, the second of those questions is very much prevalent.
Rovers were active in the transfer window albeit in a relatively low-key way as they secured the loan of Joseph Mills for the remainder of the season and also picked up Ryan Burge from Glen Hoddle’s Football Academy in the Costa del Sol. Mills may feature tonight though Burge, for now at least, will be in the ‘one for the future’ bracket, and will hopefully have never heard of Gary Williams.
The BBC report that Brian Stock, Mark Wilson and James Chambers are all back in contention for inclusion in tonight’s squad and Richard O’Kelly’s words on the Free Press website at the weekend would suggest Matt Kilgallon will have also shaken off the knock which saw him substituted against Barnsley, however the BBC seem to think he’s little chance of inclusion. Simon Gillett, Martin Woods, Wayne Thomas, Shelton Martis and Mustapha Dumbuya however all remain sidelined.
Burnley are likely to plunge new signing Charlie Austin straight in at the deep end and hand the forward his debut at the Keepmoat Stadium tonight. The striker joined The Clarets from Swindon Town at the weekend having scored an impressive 37 goals in 65 games for The Robins. Heading the other way in the transfer window was David Edgar who joined Swansea City on loan, whilst the only absentee for Eddie Howe is likely to be Chris McCann who has a thigh problem.
Predicted Doncaster Rovers line-up
(4-3-2-1) Neil Sullivan; James O’Connor, Adam Lockwood, Matt Kilgallon, George Friend; John Oster, Mark Wilson, Dean Shiels; Jamie Coppinger, James Hayter; Billy Sharp
subs: Gary Woods, James Chambers, Sam Hird, Dennis Souza, Brian Stock, Ryan Mason, Steve Brooker
Travelling to the Game
Burnley have experienced the Keepmoat Stadium before, having been here for a 2-1 defeat just after Christmas in 2008. Those who are travelling to the Keepmoat Stadium for the first time can find all they need to know about the ground in our very own guide. Everything from how to get to the stadium on foot or by car, to where to have a pint or pick your tickets up is detailed under the ‘Keepmoat Stadium’ tab at the top of the page.
Another midweek home game sadly means you’ll have to go cold turkey and endure another 90 minutes without our live match Twitter I’m afraid. Work commitments mean we’re unable to make it to the Keepmoat, but we will tweet updates where we can for those in a similar predicament. If you’re on Twitter follow @vivarovers and the #drfc hashtag. If you’re not a Twitter user you can still access the same feed by going to twitter.com/vivarovers and refreshing the page during the game.
Chris Mortley, the hardest working press office in show-business, will be performing live commentary of the game via the club’s own Rovers Player service, though you will need to subscribe receive it. For those in South Yorkshire expect updates on the match via Radio Sheffield. Exiles will have to make do with online updates via BBC website’s Live Text service, although look on the bright side. No Garth Crooks.