The Verdict: Why Richie Wellens is best deadline day signing Rovers could make

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Mixed messages from John Ryan and Paul Dickov only added to the recent confusion about Richie Wellens’ future.

But let’s make one thing very clear - Rovers should be doing everything in their power to hold onto the mercurial midfielder.

Wellens has turned back the clock at Doncaster this season and has been absolutely central to the encouraging start that Rovers have made to life back in the Championship.

He keeps the ball for fun, everything goes through him, and as Dickov has pointed out, his passing stats speak for themselves.

Richie is as influential off the pitch as he is on it too.

He gains instant respect from his peers because they know just what a good player he is.

But he’s not interested in plaudits. Richie is far more interested in winning - and he’s not shy of telling it how it is in the dressing room. He’s a leader. He’s a class act.

To lose him, after such an influential return to Rovers, would send the wrong message to players and supporters alike.

While his exit might open the door for a Paul Keegan, Dave Syers or Marc De Val Fernandez, those lads are not naive enough to think that the squad would not be left with a gaping hole if Wellens was allowed to slip through the net.

Wellens is a completely different animal to anything else that Rovers have in their squad.

He has control, composure and confidence. He has the ability to dictate a game, or grab it by the scruff of the neck.

And he has been the heartbeat of Dickov’s Doncaster thus far.

Without him, there is a serious risk that the beat and tempo of this team could stop almost instantly.

At the forefront of shareholders’ minds. who met on Thursday to discuss extended deals for Wellens as well as Manchester City loanee Reece Wabara, is what message it would send to fans if they allowed their returning hero to depart?

Are Doncaster really serious about staying in the Championship?

Because with him this new-look team has quickly gelled, and don’t look out of their place back in the second tier. Survival looks a safe bet.

Without him, and suddenly Dickov has a huge problem to contend with - because whoever steps into Richie’s shoes has very big boots to fill.

Running a tight ship is admirable in the modern game, and the current business ethos at Rovers, to spend within the club’s means, should be applauded.

But football is no ordinary business. Scrap the spreadsheets and graphs for a second, because this results business is like no other in the way that players, staff and management work to achieve their targets. Success comes from continuity, class and character - all attributes that Wellens has brought back with him.

Sometimes, just sometimes, you have to speculate to accumulate.

And if keeping Richie Wellens amounts to something of a gamble for Rovers, then in my view it’s a gamble worth taking.