Doncaster Rovers: Young players ‘stepped up’ in derby day battle with Rotherham - Coppinger

James Coppinger leaps to win the ball against Rotherham United
James Coppinger leaps to win the ball against Rotherham United

James Coppinger praised Doncaster Rovers’ young crop for showing a different side to their game in the intense derby day clash with Rotherham United.

Captain Coppinger has been complimentary about the development of the side in recent weeks as form has improved.

And he was equally effusive following Saturday’s 1-1 draw which required more battle than quality against their neighbours.

“It was in a different manner completely but it definitely continued what we’ve been doing,” Coppinger told The Star.

“You have young lads that have played in a totally different game completely – a derby with a lot of passion, a lot of commitment, a lot of energy.

“You didn’t have a second on the ball and it didn’t feel like there was a lot of space.

“Those players stepped up for me.

“Rodney Kongolo in the middle with Jordan Houghton, they were absolutely superb for me.

“To come from Academies, at Chelsea and Manchester City, and perform like they did in a game like that, it’s testament to their character.”

Coppinger believes the game will have provided invaluable experience for loanees Kongolo and Houghton as they look to develop their careers.

“It’s not nice sometimes, playing in games like that,” Coppinger said.

“People turn their nose up at it sometimes but that is just how it is.

“Not every game is like that but when you have those sort of games, you need to concentrate and not get frustrated with how the game is going and keep doing it, doing it, doing it.

“I thought the young lads were excellent today.”

# Boss Darren Ferguson confirmed Niall Mason missed Saturday’s game through injury.

“Niall is injured,” he said. “He felt him hamstring on Monday morning.

“He was never going to be risked but wasn’t fit.”