Doncaster Rovers boss will tread carefully with returning players in Newcastle United friendly
Richie Wellens admits he will face a balancing act as he lines his Doncaster Rovers side up to face Premier League outfit Newcastle United on Friday night.
Rovers will welcome Steve Bruce’s side to the Keepmoat as their preparations for the new campaign take a significant step up.
But they will do so with the majority of the club’s contracted senior players having only returned on the day of the game following ten days in isolation.
A single case of Covid-19 within the squad led to more than half a dozen players being forced to quarantine due to close contact.
Though the players were given fitness programmes to carry out at home, as well as sessions being held over Zoom, Wellens says the work of normal training cannot be replicated.
And so he will tread carefully with the amount of minutes he hands to the returning crop of players on Friday.
“We’re hoping that we can get a bit of work into all the lads that are self-isolating,” he told the Free Press.
“We’ll try our best to pick as strong a team as possible but we’re also aware the lads won’t have played football for ten days.
“There is a risk element in there but where do you go?
“If we don’t get any minutes into them then we’re into next Wednesday against Sheffield United and we’re less than two weeks before the start of the season.
“They have to start somewhere. We’ll do our best and if anyone has got any problems then we won’t risk them.
“We’ll do our best to get our strongest team.
“I’m looking forward to stepping up the opposition but also getting our strongest team out.”
John Bostock and Fejiri Okenabirhie will not be available to face Newcastle, along with long-term absentee Jon Taylor.
Wellens is keen to reestablish the burgeoning partnerships and relationships that were forged in the early days of pre-season, prior to the need to self-isolate.
Newcastle began their programme of pre-season friendlies with a 1-0 defeat at York City on Sunday.
Though the Magpies had their own brush with Covid-19, they fielded a strong side against York including Joelinton, Dwight Gayle and Callum Wilson.