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Doncaster Rovers: Ali Crawford expecting tough task in trying to force his way back into the team

Ali Crawford is ready to come out of the stands
Ali Crawford is ready to come out of the stands

Ali Crawford is fully aware of the task at hand as he attempts to force himself back into the Doncaster Rovers side.

The Scottish midfielder has been out of action since the opening day win at Southend United due to a knee injury, which has hampered his attempts to establish himself at his new club.

But he took a significant step towards a return this week by playing 45 minutes in a behind-closed-doors friendly for Rovers U23s against Scunthorpe United.

And boss Grant McCann has suggested Crawford could be a part of the squad for this weekend's trip to Plymouth Argyle.

But the 27-year-old is under no illusions that forcing his way back into the starting XI will be a difficult task due to the form of those who have featured over the last few weeks.

"It's not going to be easy to get back in," Crawford told the Free Press.

"But that is my aim now, to force myself back into the picture and try to get back into the team.

"Competition is really strong. It's not just in midfield. Ian Lawlor isn't playing, big Tom Anderson too.

"It's going to be hard to get back involved.

"Matty Blair has took his chance, scored two in two.

"He's done well and it's up to me to get back involved."

Crawford found the net in Tuesday's friendly defeat to Scunthorpe United, though the main aim handed to him by McCann was 45 minutes of hard running to put him in the frame for the trip to Plymouth.

And the former Hamilton midfielder was delighted to be back playing.

"It was brilliant," he said.

"It's always good to get back out on the pitch and get some minutes under my belt.

"I was a bit rusty but it's just great to get back out there.

"The main aim was to just get through unscathed, with no injuries. Get the feeling of the ball at my feet and get those minutes.

"It was only 45 minutes so we were just trying to get the fitness back where it could be. We got that and a wee goal as well.

"I thought I was offside but the lino never put his flag up and it was a nice easy tap in."

As for whether he will make the matchday 18 at Plymouth, Crawford is not getting his hopes up too much.

Rovers have a gap to be filled with Ben Whiteman suspended after picking up five league bookings.

It seems unlikely that Crawford will start but he could be handed a place on the bench.

"I don't know," he said.

"I'll leave that for the manager to decide.

"I'm happy to get 45 minutes under my belt, get through it unscathed.

"Now I just need to get some more training in."