Darren Ferguson explains James Coppinger substitution in defeat to Hartlepool United

James Coppinger. Photo: Frank Reid
James Coppinger. Photo: Frank Reid
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Darren Ferguson has explained his decision to sub skipper James Coppinger at Hartlepool United on Saturday - saying it was primarily for tactical reasons.

Pools equalised seconds after Coppinger - arguably Rovers’ most effective outfield player - was replaced by defender Aaron Taylor-Sinclair and went on to win the game 2-1.

Coppinger has been suffering from tendonitis in his ankle and has been withdrawn around the 70-minute mark fairly regularly this year.

After the game The Star asked Ferguson if the 36-year-old’s removal was down to his physical condition.

Ferguson said: “Copps did some really good things but I think at the end he had a couple of passes that went astray and he looked a wee bit [tired].

“The other thing was they’d just thrown so much height on I felt I had to get a bit more height into the team, and that was really the basis of the decision.

“Sinclair coming on gave us the height.

“It’s always difficult with James because he sometimes suffers because of the performance of the team.

“He doesn’t give us a great deal defensively, and that’s not a criticism, that’s the way James plays. That’s why we play him so central.

“So when clearly they had the momentum in the game I felt I needed a bit more strength in the middle of the pitch.

“If the game’s going the way we want it to and we’re very good on the ball then clearly James is a fantastic player for us.

“So he sometimes has to suffer because of the performance of the others and today was another example of that.”