Doncaster Rovers: Why James Coppinger was absent from Accrington defeat and why Ben Whiteman played two games in one day

James Coppinger
James Coppinger

James Coppinger missed Doncaster Rovers’ defeat to Accrington Stanley due to a family reason, we understand.

The veteran forward was a notable absentee from the matchday squad with boss Grant McCann reluctant to delve too deeply into the reasons behind his omission.

Though McCann suggested he had taken the opportunity to rest the 38-year-old, it is understood Coppinger was handed a compassionate break from action but is likely to return for Saturday’s trip to Oxford United.

“He was rested,” McCann said.

“It was just a few things I don’t want to speak about in public but Copps should be okay for the weekend.

“I don’t want to delve too much into it because it’s personal.”

Coppinger’s absence was one of three changes made for the clash with Accrington with Ben Whiteman and Andy Butler both dropping to the bench.

Whiteman had played the first half of Rovers U23s’ win at Rotherham United on Tuesday afternoon but came off the bench at half time against Accrington with Rovers struggling.

McCann says the midfielder is not yet 100 per cent following his ankle injury and ideally would not have played as many minutes on Tuesday as he ultimately would.

“Ideally we would maybe have used him for 15 or 20 minutes but the first half display forced our hand a little bit,” McCann said.

He added: “Ben is coming back from an injury.

“I had a conversation with him and Ben is someone who needs games.

“I felt I wanted to go with more energy in the team in terms of Kane, Rowe and Crawford because they are fit, they’ve trained and they’re 100 per cent.

“Ben is not, which is why he played 45 minutes for the U23s on Tuesday afternoon.

“It was important to get him that.

“He’s ended up playing 90 minutes on Tuesday and he wouldn’t have done that if he’d have just sat on our bench.

“That is a pleasing thing. I’ve got 90 minutes out of Ben with two games in one day and that is going to stand us in good stead for the next few games.”

On Butler's omission, McCann said: “I felt that I’ve got three good centre halves and each week I’m leaving a very good one out.”