Doncaster Rovers v Leeds United: Rovers have ‘nothing to lose’ in Capital One Cup derby

Harry Middleton could be in contention to start tonight.

Harry Middleton could be in contention to start tonight.

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Doncaster Rovers have nothing to lose and absolutely everything to gain from tonight’s Capital One Cup clash with Leeds United.

The first round tie is the perfect opportunity for newcomers to bed-in further. Andy Williams, if selected, is a case in point.

It also hands Paul Dickov the chance to look at one or two things that he may not ordinarily do if three points were at stake. Harry Middleton, for instance, might just get the nod.

And while a defeat would not be the end of the world, a win against their White Rose rivals could potentially kick-start Rovers’ season after Saturday’s somewhat underwhelming display against Bury.

Don’t give me any of this nonsense about the cup being a distraction either.

It’s not. It’s an opportunity. And if anyone, on or off the pitch, can’t get up for this one then they’re in the wrong game.

With a decent crowd expected and the game live on television, this is just the sort of match that players love to be involved in.

It certainly beats training. And if Bradford City can get to Wembley, why can’t Doncaster?

Defeat would be far from a disaster given the slog of the fixture list and the questionable depth of Doncaster’s squad but that is not to say winning doesn’t matter. Because it does.

For one thing, this Rovers team need to learn quickly about how to win at home. Funnily enough, that winning mentality comes only from winning. So what better time to start than against the neighbours from West Yorkshire?

Yes, League One is the priority. That goes without saying. But winning breeds confidence and victory tonight would be the perfect tonic ahead of Sunday’s tricky trip to Wigan.

This evening’s game also presents Dickov with an opportunity to tinker slightly, with one eye on the bigger promotion picture.

He usually gives this competition the utmost respect and wholesale changes are unlikely.

The biggest temptation must surely be to throw in Harry Middleton and ask either him, Harry Forrester or Richard Chaplow to support a lone striker.

The extra body in midfield will probably be required against the extra quality on the ball that Leeds will possess and could help give Rovers more of a stranglehold than two central midfielders did against the Shakers. Middleton deserves his chance and the opportunity to step up in a game like this could be the making of him.

It is not just the local lad pushing for a start either.

Nathan Tyson, if considered fit enough, could come into contention for a start after impressing as a substitute at the weekend.

Cedric Evina also added energy and purpose during the latter stages of Saturday’s draw and may be worth a longer look, with Harry Forrester moving inside.

While Dickov might be tempted to ‘manage’ Rob Jones’ workload and hand Gary MacKenzie a run out at centre back.

Prediction: Rovers 1 Leeds 1