James Coppinger urges Doncaster Rovers hierarchy to end contractual uncertainty

James Coppinger
James Coppinger

James Coppinger has urged the Doncaster Rovers hierarchy to sort the contractual situations within the playing squad or risk derailing their promotion push.

Coppinger is one of 23 senior players whose contracts will expire at the end of the current campaign.

And the veteran believes that fact may have played a considerable role in the inconsistent results Rovers have produced this season.

The 37-year-old thinks it would be beneficial for his team mates to be given an indication sooner rather than later over whether they are on course to be offered fresh terms.

“From a player’s perspective, it’s peace of mind,” he told the Free Press. “I wouldn’t say it’s different for everybody because people want to know where they are. At least give people the opportunity.

“If people want to run their contracts down, then that’s up to them.

“Players are human beings. They have families and people try to do the best for themselves.

“The club obviously deal with it in their way and as a footballer you have to get on with it.

“Doncaster, I imagine, aren’t the only club that do this but, again, it’s going to have an effect.”

The Free Press understands tentative discussions over new deals have already taken place with several players while others – particularly older members of the squad – are likely to be assessed as the season progresses.

Of the senior squad, only John Marquis, Ben Whiteman, Ali Crawford, Tom Anderson, Will Longbottom, Alex Kiwomya, Shane Blaney and Max Watters are contacted beyond next summer.

Coppinger has warned the club they risk losing some of their impressive young players if they do not sort their futures quickly.

He said: “You’ve got young lads playing well and if other clubs are looking at them they’ll be asking ‘have they offered you a contract yet?’

“If it’s ‘no they haven’t’ then the other club may say ‘well then, do you fancy coming here?'

“There’s always the possibility that if you don’t offer people a contract then that is the risk you run.”

On the issue of contractual uncertainty, Coppinger offered that up as a reason when asked what may have been the causes of patchy form.

He said: “I think it’s a combination of a lot of things but a little bit down to uncertainty within the squad.

“We’ve got a lot of players out of contract.

“I know as a player, when you’re doing well, you're young and people talk to you, filling your head full of stuff.

”There’s always that possibility if the club is not going to offer you a new contract, you’re probably going elsewhere.

“I think there’s four or five players who potentially could move on because of how well they're performing.

“I think that plays a part sometimes in the way they could perform or the consistency in their performances.”

“Potentially when you’re younger you need to know where your future lies in terms of contract.

“When you’re out of contract at the end of the season, there’s a lot of things that can go on in your mind – family, kids, geography in terms of where you are in the country.

“It's not just what you see on a Saturday. It’s out of football and what they’re thinking.”

Though he accepts it is down to players to secure a new deal, Coppinger insists Rovers need to avoid the situation where the main focus of individuals is their own situation rather than success as a group.

“You don’t want to create individuals playing for themselves,” he said. “You want to try to build a collective group that wants to work together and be successful for Doncaster Rovers, not just X, Y or Z.

”It’s a difficult one. It’s something I’ve had to look at as a senior pro. You look at the team and why you’re not being consistent as a team.

“It definitely plays a part. It has done with me in the past.

“I’ve tried to share my experiences with a few of the younger lads and hopefully that works.”