DONCASTER Rovers record signing Billy Sharp will make his first appearance of the club’s pre-season campaign in today’s warm-up against Blue Square Bet Premier Division Barrow at Holker Street.
Sharp, who recently rejected a £3.25m move to Southampton, missed the club’s opening friendly at Armthorpe Welfare ten days ago as a precautionary measure after picking up an ankle injury.
He stayed behind in Doncaster for further treatment and rehabilitation this week rather than accompanying the rest of the squad on their four-day break at an outward bound centre in the Lake District.
He drove up to Cumbria late yesterday and is likely to play half a game against the Bluebirds, who also hosted Rovers in pre-season friendly back in 2009 after the Championship club had also spent time at the Eskdale-based centre.
Several other players who missed the 1-1 draw against Welfare, including Mark Wilson, Gary Woods and Mustapha Dumbuya, are also set to play some part in today’s game.
Five of the trialists on duty for injury-hit Rovers against Welfare - Rowan Vine, Ellis Deeney, Algerian Rachid Bouhenna, Kevin McDonald and Oscar Radford - will get a second chance to impress management duo Sean O’Driscoll and Richard O’Kelly.
But latest signing Chris Brown, who put pen to paper on a two-year deal on Thursday, will not be involved.
Looking ahead to today’s game, O’Kelly said: “From the first day of pre-season you are looking to prepare for the opening match of the season and for the players to have a good fitness base and a good understanding of what their jobs are.
“You are also looking to engender a good work ethic and a good team spirit and both those things have come into play this week at Eskdale and the Barrow game will be a continuation of that,
“We’ll be looking to build on what we did against Armthorpe. We’ll be looking for the players to work together and take advantage of things that come their way and react well when things go against them.
“Basically all the things that go into giving a good performance and being a successful team in the Championship and every day you are putting things into place which you hope will enable us to achieve that goal,”
Today’s game will be the first time that the players who have been at Eskdale will have kicked a ball since Tuesday morning.
“We’ve just been doing things such as fitness work and team-bonding at Eskdale,” said O’Kelly.