Doncaster Rovers boss gets inside track on cup opponents Stoke City over a drink

He may have suspected tonight’s opponents Stoke City to make plenty of changes, but Doncaster Rovers boss Richie Wellens got the inside scoop to confirm it.

Tuesday, 24th August 2021, 3:17 pm

“I know Dean Holden really well. I went for a drink with him on Saturday night and he’s already told me they’ll be making a load of changes,” Wellens said.

Holden is the assistant manager of the Potters and clued Wellens in on some of the Championship side’s plans for the Carabao Cup tie at the Bet365 Stadium.

But it is unlikely Holden left expecting a similar raft of changes from the visitors, with the injury situation for Wellens at Rovers worsening in the last few days.

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Richie Wellens

The likes of Tom Anderson, John Bostock, Tiago Cukur, Ro-Shaun Williams and Ethan Galbraith have already been ruled out of the game while time on the pitch is set to be limited for Tommy Rowe and Kyle Knoyle.

It means a game that was already somewhat of an inconvenience for Wellens is now a major hassle and will see him call upon the younger members of his squad to navigate.

“I’m going to go there completely relaxed,” he said.

“There’s no pressure on the young players to win the game but they can use it as an experience.“Go and enjoy it, pass the ball and work as hard as you can.

“Let’s try to get something from the game.

Stoke are going to be making changes but they’ll be bringing in Sam Sturridge who they bought for £5million and things like that.

“Even though we want to win the game, we know with the personnel that we’ve got out, it’s going to be very tough.”

While the pressure is firmly off Rovers this evening, Wellens has called upon those who will be handed the opportunity to play to take their chance and force their way into the forefront of his plans.

He said: “You look at someone like Cameron John who has been a different class since I came in.

“He’s got his opportunity now and he can be a mainstay in the team.

“Branden Horton hasn’t had many opportunities and now he has the chance to make the left back spot his own.

“Things are always developing and changing in football. If you go a 46 game league season without any injuries then it’s a dream scenario. It doesn’t happen.

“It’s important the players on the periphery who get the opportunity on Tuesday go and perform and given me something to think about if we have injuries, if Tiago is not fit for Saturday, if Galbraith is not fit.”

On Stoke, Wellens’ own preparations will be far from as detailed as they would typically be if the contest was a league tie.

He said: “I haven’t watched any of their games. I’ll watch their last cup game because there’s no point watching their game from Saturday.

“We’re not going to throw the players in blind, even if there won’t be as much thought process going into it from what we’d have in a league game.

“I’d imagine behind Bournemouth and Fulham, Stoke won’t be far off in terms of financial clout in the division.

“They’ve got a good international manager and Dean Holden is someone I’ve got a lot of time for, a really good coach. And they’ve got a hell of a lot of good players.”

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