Doncaster Rovers: New boy Kieran Sadlier faces tough fight for starting berth

Kieran Sadlier
Kieran Sadlier

Doncaster Rovers new boy Kieran Sadlier has a tough task ahead to force his way into the side according to boss Grant McCann.

Sadlier – who signed an 18-month contract with Rovers earlier this week – is expected to compete with the likes of Mallik Wilks, James Coppinger and Alfie May for a place on the right or left of the front three.

And McCann says the fierce competition and form of his rivals for the position will mean Sadlier will not simply walk into his team.

“He's got huge competition,” McCann said.

“From last Saturday's game there was Mallik Wilks and James Coppinger in the two positions he can play and then there's Paul Taylor and Alfie May backing that up.

“The competition for him is huge.

“He knows he's going to have to fight to get in the team.

“If you look at the forwards this year, Tayls hasn't really had a chance because of the form of others, Alfie has scored nine goals, Mallik has got seven and John [Marquis] has got 14.

“Kieran knows he's going to have to fight to get into the team but he is here to do that.

“He knows he's not going to walk straight into this team, he's going to have to work hard and fight for that to happen.”

Despite his assertions over Sadlier’s place, McCann believes the 24-year-old will make as big an impact as other recent players who have crossed the Irish Sea for EFL clubs.

“There’s a couple of teams over there that could hold their own in League One, no question,” McCann said.

“You only have to look at people like Sean Maguire who is at Preston. Gavin Whyte at Oxford came from the Irish League [Northern Ireland] and the young boy Paul Smyth at QPR as well.

“There’s quality there if you see it.

“We know Kieran has all the attributes to stamp his mark on this league.”

The former Republic of Ireland U21 international will report for training at Cantley Park for the first time on Thursday and enter into a mini-preseason.

Sadlier’s season with Cork City ended in early November and McCann says there is some work to be done to get him ready for January 1, when he will be eligible to play for Rovers.

“He will start from Thursday and we'll get his testing done on Thursday, Friday and Saturday,” McCann said.

“Then we'll get him on a special plan.

“He's been training any way. He's had about two and a half, to three weeks off but he's been with a sports scientist I know who has been delivering daily sessions with him.

“We've been keeping an update on which is great.

“In terms of his power, strength and physique, the physio has been really pleased with him and where he is.

“He's had that break because he needed it but he's been back training two or three weeks in the gym and with the sport scientist.

“He'll probably be good to go in training with us in the next couple of weeks.”