Cheltenham Town boss praises influence and character of ex-Doncaster Rovers trio
Alfie May and Matty Blair are both expected to start for the Robins against their former club today, while Andy Williams is likely to be named on the bench.
May and Williams both scored in Rovers’ entertaining 3-2 win in the reverse fixture in October when, along with Blair, the returnees were each given a warm reception by the home fans.
Ahead of today’s game, Duff waxed lyrical about the trio’s commitment, character and impact at the Jonny-Rocks Stadium.
“I think the most important word there is character and that's why we signed them,” said Duff, whose side have adapted well to the third tier after winning last season’s League Two title.
“We took Alfie and I obviously have a relationship with Grant McCann and identified him about a year before he actually came.
“Alfie's had all the headlines in the last few weeks, but Willo and Blairy we signed them and you don't get to the age they are at, without being good characters.
“I've said it before, but senior players have a pull in the dressing room. You only get to your mid-30s in football by being a good character and a good pro because if you are only good when you are in the team, it's no good to anyone because everyone is good when they are in the team.
“When you are not in the team and Willo hasn't been in the team as much as he'd like, he still has a really important role.
“If he wanted to make it all about himself, or poison the dressing room, he'd be able to take people with him. He has clout in the dressing room because of the career he's had, with three or four promotions, 500 league games.
“No, it's not a surprise they got such a good reception up there because they'll have done exactly the same.
“They do everything right, and their quality might let them down at times, but that's the same at every level and people will always have bad games, but I don't think anyone would question whether they fancied it or not.
“They leave everything out there and that's what we want and what epitomises our group.
“We feel lucky to have the three of them and I am sure that's why they were successful at Doncaster as well, because the group they had there had some good players, but some good characters as well.”
May, who has 18 goals to his name this season, is on course to become the Robins’ all-time leading goalscorer in the EFL after joining them from Rovers in January 2020.
Blair, 32, made the same move the following summer after four seasons with Rovers and has become a mainstay at wing back in Duff's team.
Williams, 35, is into his second season with the Robins after joining from Northampton Town.