Doncaster Rovers defender admits he loves a Royal Rumble with strikers

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If you thought Joseph Olowu was Mr Nice Guy, think again.

Friendly? Yes. Well-mannered? Yes. A pushover on the pitch? Hell no.

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"I’ve been told I’m a very nice and polite person off the pitch and they just say: ‘don’t let that translate on the pitch’,” Olowu tells The Free Press ahead of Saturday's visit of Crawley Town, which could see him recalled to the starting XI after returning from injury against Lincoln City earlier this week.

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Bradford's Kian Harratt clashes with Joseph Olowu on the opening day.Bradford's Kian Harratt clashes with Joseph Olowu on the opening day.
Bradford's Kian Harratt clashes with Joseph Olowu on the opening day.

"From a young age my dad used to say: ‘If you are going to tackle someone and you miss the ball, make sure you don’t miss the man’.

"I’ve kept that in my head.”

Such a streetwise mentality will serve Olowu well in the Football League’s basement division where, as his teammate George Miller recently put it: “It’s a scrap first and foremost, it’s horrible.”

As a youth, Olowu enjoyed a 13-year-long footballing education with Arsenal of all clubs – a side so often dismissed as physically and mentally weak in recent seasons.

His DNA appears different, however. Perhaps because he grew up idolising the formidable partnership at Manchester United between Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidić.

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"I like getting the strikers and seeing what they’re about,” admits Olowu, who is a relatively young centre-half at 22.

"If you give it back to me, then we’re going to have a good day.

"If you fold under pressure, then that’s no fun.”

Have there been any favourite prisoners he’s taken since making the jump into senior football with Doncaster Rovers 12 months ago?

"The game against Bradford, first game of the season, (Vadaine) Oliver up top.

"He’s got a bit of a presence, so that was interesting.”

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Oliver arrived at Valley Parade with a big reputation, having impressed in the league above with struggling Gillingham last season.

He was kept quiet that day, however.

Olowu adds: "They brought on the number nine (Andy Cook) in the second half as well.

"Those were bang-heads centre-forwards, so it was a bit of a test, but I enjoyed it.”

Cook was also kept at bay by Olowu and his central defensive partner Ro-Shaun Williams.

He has since scored 11 times.

Doncaster have lacked defensive solidity in recent weeks but improved somewhat on Tuesday.

With results needed, Olowu’s return to fitness could be timely.