MIDFIELDER Sammy Clingan is hoping that he did well enough in last weekend’s defeat at home to Bournemouth to retain his place in the side to face Portsmouth at Fratton Park tomorrow.
It was the 28 year-old Northern Ireland international’s first league start for Rovers since joining them on short-term contract until the end of the year last month and he caught the eye with some slick distribution.
Clingan, who was at Coventy City last season, made his debut for Rovers as a second half substitute in the 2-0 win at Notts County at the end of last month and made his starting debut the following week in the FA Cup first round tie at home to Bradford Park Avenue.
Without catching the eye as much as he did on Saturday, Clingan gave a decent account of himself considering that he hadn’t played for six months.
“The last match I started was for Coventry against Millwall back in April,” he told The Star. “I picked up an injury and missed the last couple of games.”
Clingan found himself back on the bench for the home game against Crewe four days later.
“I’m not sure why I didn’t start against Crewe to be honest,” he said. “But the boys had been doing well before I came here and I think the manager probably found it hard to change a winning team.”
There were no shortage of clubs interested in Clingan, who was a target for Rovers during Dave Penney’s time in charge when at Chesterfield earlier in his career, during the summer. But for various reasons he found himself without a club and spent the crucial pre-season period back in Belfast where he trained by himself.
“You try to push yourself as hard as you can but you miss the games,” he said.
When offered the chance to come to Doncaster, Clingan grabbed it with open arms. It’s a decision that he’s not regretted.
“They are a good bunch of lads here and they made it easy for me to settle in quickly,” he said.
Having played at League One level before he says he knew what to expect.
“There is a difference between the Championship and League One,” he said. “I think you get less time on the ball the lower down the league’s you go. I think everyone knows that but you just get on with it.
Having helped Nottingham Forest to win promotion during his time at the City Ground, Clingan knows what it takes to go up.
“I think the team is good enough to go up; there are some good players here who have played in the Championship,” he said.
But like everyone else connected with the club, Clingan knows that results at the Keepmoat Stadium have to improve.
“I’ve not been here long enough to make any sort of judgement on why that should be,” he said. “You would expect most teams to be harder to beat at home than away, but I’ve played in sides where that hasn’t been the case.”
Beaten just once on their travels in the league this season, Rovers face successive long trips to Portsmouth and Carlisle within four days.
“We’ll just take each game as it comes and hopefully we’ll pick up the three points tomorrow and that will give us a boost for the Carlisle game on Tuesday,” said Clingan.
With Portsmouth having lost manager Michael Appleton to Blackpool last week, cash-strapped Pompey would look to be in even more turmoil than ever.
But Clingan has been in the game long enough to know that a change of manager can often bring about improved results in the short-term, though Pompey suffered a 2-0 defeat away to lowly Bury last weekend.
“You never know until the day whether it is a bad time to catch a side,” said Clingan. “What I do know having played at Fratton Park before, is that the crowd really get behind the team and there is always a good atmosphere.”
Having joined Rovers on an initial short-term deal until the end of the year to both help Rovers and to put himself in the ‘shop window’ Clingan says that he wouldn’t be adverse to staying longer.
“I’d like to stay on until the end of the season,” he said. “I’m here until the end of the year and if things go well then hopefully the manager will call me in for a chat.”
Teams and ref
PORTSMOUTH (possible): Andersen, Dumbuya, Michalik, Gyepes, Dickinson, Williamson, Howard, Russell, Harley, McLeod, Harris (4-4-2).
ROVERS (possible): G Woods, Quinn/Griffin. Jones, Martis, Spurr Cotterill, Clinghan, Harper/Keegan, Husband Hume, Brown/Paynter (4-4-2)
IAIN Williamson (Berks): Mr Williamson has dished out 34 yellow cards so far this season.