James Coppinger’s most productive season is down to him becoming a middle man.
So says Doncaster Rovers boss Darren Ferguson - who handed the 36-year-old Rovers legend a new contract until 2018 this week.
Coppinger’s tally of eight goals this season already surpasses his previous best at Doncaster. He also leads the way in the League Two assists standings.
And Ferguson says his shift inside has been paramount to that.
“James has improved as a player because in that central area he had to bring more goals and more assists,” said Ferguson.
“And that’s where we’ve seen a massive improvement from James, in terms of the quality he’s provided in the final third.
“That’s nothing to do with the level he’s at, it’s just him performing as he has.”
As Coppinger continues to defy his age, Ferguson this week drew similarities with his former Manchester United teammate Ryan Giggs, who retired from playing at the age of 40.
He said: “I’ve seen players have the longevity James has shown, simply because they’ve managed their training sessions and bodies.
“At the top level, Giggsy kept going. Ryan was very similar in that he started playing a lot more central when he got older, he went to centre midfield as opposed to a winger.
“It’s the same with James. It helps him defensively and he understands the game.”
Coppinger said this week: “I never thought I’d be here 13 years on, but I feel in really good condition - I feel better than when I was younger, which sounds a little silly - but I am enjoying it and offering something to the team. In pre-season I was as fit as anybody in the team, so it’s looking good for the next couple of years.”