What we learned about Doncaster Rovers this week

Alex Kiwomya
Alex Kiwomya

A goalless draw at Gillingham – and a poor spectacle at that – suggested Rovers’ season may amble towards its conclusion rather than sprint there.

But we can hope that was just a blip as they look to finish the season strongly.

Nevertheless, there were a few items of note over the last week.

THERE ARE NO GUARANTEES

Alex Kiwomya’s absence from the matchday 18 at Gillingham was a surprise - and the reasoning for which even more eyebrow-raising.

Darren Ferguson simply could find no place for the striker, largely due to a desire to keep the squad largely intact from the win at Blackpool, which Kiwomya missed through illness.

Kiwomya was left as the spare man at the Priestfield Stadium, a status which reflected the strength of the Rovers squad currently.

Ferguson has a level of availability unprecedented for this season and it is giving him a severe selection headache.

It means there are no guarantees for the likes of Kiwomya, despite his fine form since his debut. Nor are there any guarantees that Andy Butler will force his way back into the starting XI, with Wright and Baudry performing so well in his absence.

Get a chance, play well and you will, in all likelihood, keep your shirt.

And that is a healthy position for Rovers to be in.

Chances are likely to come due to tired legs during the incredibly busy period which kicks off this weekend. But dips in individual form will not be tolerated.

COMPLACENCY WILL KILL SEASON

The one worrying factor of Saturday’s game at Gillingham was it was clear to see several Rovers players switched off somewhat as the game wore on.

Passing that was sharp in the first half became sloppy in the second. Runs that were intelligent became sluggish.

Hopefully it is isolated to this game because it has been good to see Rovers playing with the shackles off at times over the last few weeks.

But the worry plenty will have is that now that Rovers are all but mathematically safe, their levels of desire and determination will dip.

And the opposition in almost every one of the remaining seven games will have something to fight for – most of them at the wrong end of the table.

Complacency should and probably would be punished in this scenario.

This is their chance for a good run of games where the pressure is off and they have an opportunity to play with the freedom that should bring out the best in them.

The competition for places should keep the players on their toes. Let’s hope it does.

CONTRACTUAL DECISION WON’T BE EASY TO MAKE

Or some of them won’t be at least.

We can make an educated guess at which of the five out-of-contract senior players will not be handed new deals.

And Ferguson has strongly hinted he wants James Coppinger to remain for yet another season with Rovers.

But there is certainly some weighing up to be done when it comes to Mathieu Baudry.

Given his recent form, and the flourishing partnership with Joe Wright, the Frenchman is making it very difficult to suggest he shouldn’t get a new contract.

What stands against him is his injury record. In his two seasons with Rovers so far, he has yet to make the start of the campaign.

With their resources, Rovers cannot carry players they cannot rely up to be fully fit.

There is no doubting however that Baudry – when available – can be an important player for Rovers.

And he showed his versatility at the weekend when finishing the game in the defensive midfield role.

Should Rovers not secure a deal for Jordan Houghton – or opt against one – Luke McCullough has shown his is more than capable of holding down that position since returning to the side.

And Baudry would add to the list of back-up players in the role, along with Niall Mason and Ben Whiteman.

His future is probably the toughest decision facing Ferguson as the boss works on new deals.