Tommy Rowe is confident Doncaster Rovers can out-think teams in League Two.
Boss Darren Ferguson has made it clear he expects his side to react better if and when things start going against them, and basically show a lot more mental toughness.
Ahead of tomorrow’s opening day trip to Accrington Stanley, the Scot has also urged his team to stick to their beliefs in the way that they play.
Rowe helped transform a team that just could not buy a win when he joined at the back end of last season - and the midfielder believes that Ferguson’s revamped squad now have stronger DNA when it comes to the mental side of the game.
“I played in League Two for Stockport when I was 18, 19, and I don’t think it’s changed much,” said Rowe. “It’s a very physical league.
“But apart from the physical side there’s the mental side too. You’ve got seasoned pros in this division and they know how to win a game.
“If you can out-think them sometimes that’s the skill, rather than outperforming them.
“A lot of people will look at the ability we have here at Doncaster but a lot of our coaching is about out-thinking teams as well.
“And that will be crucial because there’ll be times you can’t play a certain way and you’ll be stopped. How can you change in the game? I think we’ve got the experience and the know-how to do that now.”
Rovers have been rocked by injuries during pre-season and will be without Luke McCullough, Mathieu Baudry, Craig Alcock and Gary McSheffrey this weekend.
But Rowe insists the club’s bad luck has galvanised the first team squad.
“It’s not been good but sometimes you can’t doing anything about it. We’ve been unlucky with some of the injuries,” he said.
“They’re crucial players so it’s not been great but hopefully, holistically, it will galvanise us. We’re more as one unit now. We’ve seen what’s happened to some of our players but that gives other players an opportunity.
“We’ve got a good squad and everyone is going to have to play their part. We’ve got strength in depth and I think that’s the most important thing.
“It’s challenged us as a group and it’s brought us together a bit more,” he added.
“These sort of things usually happen in the first week or first month of the season but it’s happened to us already.
“We’re already seeing certain patterns from the players that bode well: the way we react, the way we change the way we want to play.”
Rowe acknowledges that making a good start to the season is even more important after the disappointment of relegation.
He said: “We’re keen to make amends for what happened. There’s no hiding that.
“The start is important, but so is the middle and the end.
“We’ll go out there on Saturday and try and impose the way we want to play on Accrington.
“I think people have seen in pre-season, against Newcastle in particular, we like to press and we like to get in people’s faces.
“When we’re on our game we’re a hard team to break down and we can break other teams down.”