Doncaster Rovers: Why Grant McCann was unsure about James Coppinger
Grant McCann admits he was unsure exactly what to expect from James Coppinger when he arrived at Doncaster Rovers last summer.
With Coppinger well into his 37th year – and 15th at Rovers – McCann says he expected the veteran to need careful management to ensure he was ready for games.
But after handing the now 38-year-old a new one-year contract, McCann says he was happy to be proven wrong on both Coppinger and fellow experienced pro Andy Butler.
"Maybe it was just their age really,” McCann said.
"Just coming in, a 34-year-old and a 38-year-old, how are they going to be on an every day level?
“Are they going to need resting for two or three days and bringing back in on a Thursday?
“That hasn't been the case, both of them are as fit as a fiddle. They train every day, with the same mentality they play a game in.
“They've been outstanding, both of them.”
Butler is expected to follow Coppinger in signing a new deal in the coming days.
While there was plenty of clamour for Coppinger to be rewarded with a fresh contract, McCann says the only factor driving the decision to do so was the on-going form and ability of the forward, who has made 49 appearances this season.
“Copps completely deserves his new deal,” McCann said. “It's nothing to do with him being here for 16 years.
“He's been performing to a consistent level all season.
“That is the reason why I wanted to keep him here, whether it's the Championship or League One.
“He was delighted with that so we're pleased.”
Coppinger’s consistent presence in the front line is a reflection enough on his impressive form this term with plenty of other options at McCann’s disposal.
"We're very strong up there,” the Rovers boss said.
“If anyone steps off it and doesn’t perform to the levels we think they can perform then there's no sentiment.
“It's very clear and the group knows that. We are strong at the top end of the pitch.”