Darren Ferguson admits he faces a difficult decision over James Coppinger before almost every Doncaster Rovers away game.
Coppinger starred in the first half of Rovers’ visit to Portsmouth on Saturday, scoring after just four minutes and creating all manner of problems before the hosts wrestled control.
The veteran – who reached 499 league appearances for Rovers at the weekend – was brought off later in the game as Rovers looked to hold on, before finding themselves facing nine men.
And Ferguson said that game was the perfect example of the dilemma he faces of whether or not to start Coppinger.
“I had to bring Copps off because he’s not in the team to be running out and stopping full backs,” he told The Star. “He’s in the team to be attacking.
“At that point we were defending too much.
“But in the last ten minutes or so when we needed someone with that composure, Copps is your man but you can’t obviously bring him back on.
“As a manager, he’s a difficult one.
“Sometimes a decision will be made on James where, if he’s going to end up just defending all the time, it’s not going to work.
“I thought he was outstanding in the first period – scored, created, had a couple of shots.”
Coppinger has been forced to battle tendonitis over the last few years and credits Ferguson with managing his game time to ensure he is still able to play regularly.
It means the Rovers boss will regularly drop the 37-year-old to the bench or even leave him out entirely of some long away trips.
Ferguson has also looked to manage the game time of Jordan Houghton who suffered knee ligament damage a year ago.
And that was why the 22-year-old did not start against Bristol Rovers ten days ago.
Ferguson said: “I had to give him a rest.
“You sometimes forget that he had that injury.
“You could see in the two performances before that game he had lost a yard.
“I had a conversation and credit to him, he said he felt that way. It was only a matter of time before I gave him a rest.”
Rovers’ Development squad will take on their Rotherham United counterparts at Cantley Park today with a 1pm kick off.