Doncaster Rovers: Richie Wellens ‘back to his best’, says boss Paul Dickov

Richie Wellens tries to find a way past the Bradford defence
Richie Wellens tries to find a way past the Bradford defence

Paul Dickov believes Richie Wellens could be back to his best.

The 34-year-old was on the verge of exiting the Keepmoat after contract talks broke down in the summer.

Wellens had also attracted interest from Championship clubs before eventually penning a two-year deal with Doncaster in September.

The talismanic midfielder was instrumental in last Saturday’s 2-1 derby day victory over Bradford City with Dickov hailing his impact.

“Second half he was outstanding,” he said.

“We knew it would take time with Richie. I don’t want to keep going on about it but he missed the majority, if not all, of pre-season. Second half against Bradford, I thought he ran the show.

“The experienced lads were fantastic, especially in seeing out the game.

“Keegs [Paul Keegan] sat in front of the back four, Nathan [Tyson] chased everything down, Copps [James Coppinger], Richie and Andy Butler - you need that experience throughout the spine of your team and we saw the benefits of that on Saturday.”

As well as his experienced contingent, Dickov was quick to highlight the performance of young defender Liam Wakefield who came on for the injured Cedric Evina in the first half at Valley Parade.

The 20-year-old helped fire Rovers’ towards victory, whipping in a dangerous delivery for Reece Wabara to bundle home for 1-1.

“The kid was outstanding. He’s been in and out the team a couple of times but he’s got a top attitude,” said Dickov.

“It’s a fantastic ball in. You can’t defend the ball that he’s put in. Overall performance was very good.”

The result also left Dickov in optimistic mood ahead of the impending trip to Conference South side Weston-super-Mare in this weekend’s FA Cup.

“We said after MK Dons last week [0-0] we had a clean sheet and we wanted to kick-on and start winning games. We’ve done that against Bradford and we’ve got a couple of tough cup games coming up starting with this weekend,” he added.