Doncaster Rovers: Tommy Rowe discusses his battle for game time and ‘exciting’ build-up to Barnsley clash
If anyone needed a reminder of Tommy Rowe’s quality, they got it on Tuesday at Blackpool.
The Doncaster Rovers skipper allowed a James Coppinger pass to roll across his body before smashing a shot into top corner from 18 yards.
It mirrored a similar effort at Bloomfield Road last season, with a smart free kick routine finished in not quite so emphatic fashion. And it also capped an excellent individual performance in what was only his 12th start of the season.
A hamstring injury – coming after a summer of rehabilitation from the same issue – halted his season before it had really started.
And a combination of the form of others in the well-stocked midfield plus a protracted return to full fitness has restricted Rowe to mainly substitute appearances in recent months.
But, ever-positive, the 30-year-old insists he has stepped up to the challenge and is relishing the battle for game time.
“It’s been hard work,” he told the Free Press.
“Every part of my career, you hit road blocks but you’ve got to hit them head on.
“You can dodge around it but I’ve never been afraid of going through it.
“Whether it takes me one game, three games or whatever to get to my best, I’ll get there.
“This team is encouraging and that is a big thing – who doesn’t want to play in this team?
“It’s been really encouraging to watch and to say I’d like to play there.
“I had that opportunity but I know there is a lot more to come from me.
“The goal was great but I’ve got so much more to show and give and with time I think I will get there.”
Rowe’s performance on Tuesday night has given Grant McCann a real selection headache in midfield for Friday night’s clash with Barnsley.
Sign up to our daily newsletter
Herbie Kane started on the bench at Blackpool but looked rejuvenated after being subbed on, much improved from his recent showings.
And Ali Crawford has performed well, particularly in games against the division’s leading sides.
Captain Rowe expects training in the build-up to Friday night will be intense, such is the desire to play against a side seemingly destined for automatic promotion.
“They are the game you thrive on,” he said.
“Who doesn’t want to play in them?
“There’s a lot of competition now. It's going to be one of those where training is going to be exciting.
“The lads have always stepped it up in training and that is what gives the manager the headache – us pushing each other in training.
“That’s where the intensity starts and we have to take it into games.”
The enjoyment factor remains high for the veteran and he insists the same can be said for the rest of the Rovers squad.
“Without a doubt,” he said.
“I have good hindsight looking at every situation. I’ve got a son who plays football and I just tell him to enjoy every moment.
“It's the best job in the world. We've just got to keep focused and stay in it for the long haul.
“That is something we tell each other daily.
“There have been signs this season that is has come into effect.”