Trio set to face Pompey

Paul Keegan in action against Milwall. Picture: Steve Uttley
Paul Keegan in action against Milwall. Picture: Steve Uttley

Sean O’Driscoll is hoping to have some of the walking wounded fit as his team embark on a gruelling run of nine games in 29 days.

Relegated Premier League club Portsmouth pay their first visit to Doncaster for almost 30 years on Saturday as Rovers seek to bounce back from last Saturday’s agonising 1-0 stoppage time own goal defeat at Millwall.

Then much improved Ipswich Town travel to the Keepmoat next Tuesday night on a three match winning streak after beating Sheffield United 3-0 last Saturday.

Rovers had a dozen players ruled out with a variety of injuries against Millwall but could be boosted by the return of James Coppinger, Neil Sullivan and on loan Matt Kilgallon for Saturday’s vital clash.

Coppinger is almost certain to be back after resting a bruised and battered ankle and Kilgallon was also due back in training today after completing rehabilitation work on a hamstring strain.

Sullivan has had the skin around his shin bone drained of fluid following a nasty injury but his kicking may still be affected and a decision on whether he is fit to return will be delayed until tomorrow.

But the news on striker James Hayter is not so good with a torn calf muscle likely to keep him out for three to four weeks.

Also on the sidelines are centre backs Shelton Martis, Wayne Thomas and Adam Lockwood, midfield men Martin Woods, Simon Gillett and Mark Wilson and full backs Joseph Mills and Mustapha Dumbuya.

O’Driscoll said: “It’s unusual to get so many injuries at the same time and it’s good to see the problem easing somewhat.

“It would be difficult enough for the teams with the bigger squads in the Championship so it’s been particularly tough for us.

“But the players haven’t felt sorry for themselves, they’ve got on with the job and we were unlucky not to come back from London with a point on Saturday.”

Rovers battled hard in the difficult windy conditions and looked set to get some reward until they suffered a sickening blow when a raking 91st minute cross from James Henry glanced off the head of James O’Connor and into the net.

It was especially heartbreaking for O’Connor, who had played well and had raced back to try and prevent Kevin Lisbie latching on to the near post pass.

O’Driscoll said: “As it happens it looks as if Lisbie wasn’t going to reach the ball and James may not have needed to go for it himself - but he wasn’t to know that.

“It hurts losing like that after the effort we put in, but we just have to take it on the chin and get on with it.”

He added: “I thought our application was good and hopefully we can take that forward into the next game.”

Portsmouth have been teetering on the brink off the field and their financial troubles have also affected performances.

Rovers beat them 3-2 at Fratton Park in November and Pompey have now gone ten games without a win.

But the Doncaster boss said: “When you look at their team they are as good as anything in the division and are probably more capable of stringing a series of wins together than most.

“We just have to make sure we produce a performance to prevent that happening on Saturday.”

By contrast Ipswich have won their last three matches - a run that started when they beat Rovers 3-2 at Portman Road three weeks ago.

O’Driscoll added: “Tuesday will be tough - but let’s concentrate on Saturday first.”

n Club captain Brian Stock is all set to sign a new contract that will bind him to the club until the summer of 2013. O’Driscoll said everything had been agreed with the player whose representatives were going through the paperwork.