Doncaster Rovers new boy Tiago Cukur playing catch-up after month of isolation

New Doncaster Rovers signing Tiago Cukur will need time to get up to full speed after a month of isolation according to boss Richie Wellens.

Wednesday, 21st July 2021, 5:00 pm
Updated Wednesday, 21st July 2021, 5:34 pm
Tiago Cukur holds off a challenge on his first appearance in Rovers colours at Wakefield. Picture: Howard Roe/AHPIX

The Watford loanee was placed in quarantine for two ten day periods after travelling from Turkey to the Netherlands, and then onto London. And all this was before he was forced into isolation due to a positive Covid-19 case.

Wellens admits parent club Watford needed convincing to release the forward at this stage of pre-season, rather than insisting he carries out fitness work with them before commencing his loan.

But the Rovers boss is confident the 18-year-old will soon hit top gear after making his first appearance in Tuesday’s friendly at Wakefield.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

“We had the conversation with Watford and they didn’t want to give him to us this early because they know he needs work,” Wellens told the Free Press.

“You can see he’s carrying a little bit but that’s because he’s not been able to properly exercise for nearly a month.

“If you’re living in a hotel your diet can become a bit of a worry as well.

“But he’s staying in a hotel with [assistant manager] Noel Hunt now so Noel will have him under lock and key and make sure his diet is spot on.

“You can see he’s carrying a little bit but you can also see how strong he is and when the ball goes into him around the box he’s assured in possession and he’s going to be a handful.

“I think you’ve seen little snippets of his quality and his movement is very good as well.

“Watford wanted to keep him but we can get players fit, hence he’s come to us. He’ll work on Wednesday and Thursday and he’ll be included in the squad to face Newcastle.

“We’ll work him really hard on Saturday and give him Sunday off.”

Cukur played almost a hour in the 6-0 win over Wakefield at Post Office Road, the home of Featherstone Rovers rugby league club.

Despite being 6ft3 and well-built himself, he found himself up against a player even more physically imposing in Wakefield defender Danny Stimpson - which Wellens enjoyed watching.

“Their number five, when he came on the pitch I didn’t know whether he’d got the dates wrong and he was there to play for the rugby team,” Wellens said. “He was a big brute of a man.

“But Tiago held him off and if he’s doing that to lads like that, he’s going to have no problem dealing with the physicality at our level.

“He’s got good feet and a football brain as well.

“I have an 18-year-old lad and if I compare him to Tiago, Tiago has got tattoos, he’s a man, a physical presence.”


In these confusing and worrying times, local journalism is more vital than ever. Thanks to everyone who helps us ask the questions that matter by taking out a subscription or buying a paper. We stand together. Liam Hoden, editor.