Doncaster Rovers v Bradford City: Grant McCann expects reset from wounded Rovers against stable Bantams

Friday's League Two Yorkshire derby pits a Bradford City team in good shape physically and in terms of results against a Doncaster Rovers side wounded in every sense.
Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now

Rovers manager Grant McCann is hoping it works in his club's favour.

The hosts have been beset by injuries throughout a season which has never really properly taken off. Last Saturday was perhaps the nadir, beaten 5-0 at home by Morecambe.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Bradford have won their last five having found their feet under new manager Graham Alexander.

FIT AGAIN: Doncaster Rovers midfielder Ben CloseFIT AGAIN: Doncaster Rovers midfielder Ben Close
FIT AGAIN: Doncaster Rovers midfielder Ben Close

But a wounded animal can be dangerous, and McCann rubbed salt in by making his players relive Saturday at the start of this week.

"It was important to watch elements of our game that we felt at the time was not right and get it out of the way," he argues.

"It was important the players were honest and we were honest with the players. Since that meeting there's almost been a reset button pressed.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"It was actually worse when we watched it back. We were way below what we expect. Previous to that we'd been on a decent enough run so we need to get back on the horse."

Ben Close is back from injury, which McCann hopes will be important.

"He's been in tremendous form and what he's done this season has been really good," says his manager. "The way he can get on the ball and control the tempo is something we definitely missed last week.

"Playing against Graham's teams over the years it's always been difficult. We expect it's going to be a physical game and we have to be good on our duels – first contacts, second balls, things like that – making sure we can run harder than them and quicker than them.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"We want to show a response and the group has been very good at that. Too many times we're having to respond and we want to try and get more consistency in our game."

The cliche says Alexander faces "selection headaches" trying to keep a squad bigger than he would like happy. It is not how he sees it.

"You can't," he says.

"You have to treat people with respect and be honest in any conversation with them, and train them as hard as they expect to be trained.

"You have to come to terms with (the fact) there's going to be players slightly despondent if they're not involved. I'd be slightly perturbed if it's the other way around and five or six were not fussed about playing.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"I'm not going to be making unnecessary changes, I'm not that type of manager. I like to reward performances and results with the shirt."

That said, there is little point having a bench McCann would die for right now and not using it.

"If I see a player struggling energy-wise I'll make a decision for the benefit of the team," stresses Alexander. “We've got good players on the bench who can improve the performance or keep it where it is.

"It's not about looking after a player, it's about looking after the team, the performance and the result.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"I'd be surprised if we play the same XI in all four games but I'm not saying there will definitely be changes. If the same team gets through these four games I would say we've performed well and got good results.”

Comment Guidelines

National World encourages reader discussion on our stories. User feedback, insights and back-and-forth exchanges add a rich layer of context to reporting. Please review our Community Guidelines before commenting.