Former Coventry City and Bristol Rovers midfielder feels back on track at Doncaster Rovers

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Zain Westbrooke believes the foundations are in place for success at Doncaster Rovers having extended his stay at the club.

The midfielder, who initially joined on a short-term contract in March, has penned a new one-year-deal as he looks to get his career back on track in South Yorkshire.

Doncaster’s first season back in League Two ended in disappointment as they recorded their lowest finish since their Football League return 20 years ago.

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But it is hoped next year will be far more successful, with owner Terry Bramall providing what he called “a significant financial injection” for a promotion push.

Zain Westbrooke is confident good times are ahead for Doncaster Rovers.Zain Westbrooke is confident good times are ahead for Doncaster Rovers.
Zain Westbrooke is confident good times are ahead for Doncaster Rovers.

The return of Grant McCann and some early activity in the transfer market has also raised optimism levels in DN4.

Westbrooke, who featured eight times following his arrival on a free transfer in March, said: “That’s the big reason why I didn’t hesitate in signing and I wanted to be offered a contract here.

"I could see the base and the foundation being built. It’s not easy after a relegation, you don’t just go straight back up, it’s not as easy as that.

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"You have to build the foundations up and make sure you are strong enough to be able to compete at this level.”

Rovers held their own for large parts of the season and threatened to gatecrash the top seven on several occasions.

But inconsistency was consistently their Achilles heel and a string of injuries in the final third of the campaign exposed their lack of strength in depth.

That saw them tumble down the table and eventually finish 18th, which cost former head coach Danny Schofield his job.

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Westbrooke said: “Results are results and everyone wants to win.

"My main aim was to get back on the pitch and start enjoying it, and be around people that I enjoy working with again.

"On a personal note I was really happy to come into work every day. This year we want to win more games and I want to play better football

"I don’t feel like I played my best football, but it was a stepping stone for me to get back into it.”

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Despite plenty of in-house confidence, the bookmakers are yet to be convinced of Doncaster’s chances next term.

Eight teams are currently more fancied for promotion than McCann’s men.

Westbrooke said: “It’s going to be one of the toughest (divisions) I have been around, there’s plenty of big teams, big stadiums.

"It’s going to be competitive, but that’s what everyone wants.

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"Pre-season is going to be a big eye-opener of where we think we can finish, but definitely we will be pushing.”

McCann hopes he can get the best out of Westbrooke after a tough few seasons with Bristol Rovers.

The 26-year-old had been linked with a move to the Championship after catching the eye at Coventry City.

But his switch to the South West did not work out as planned and he left Joey Barton’s side in January.

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McCann said: “He’s a lad that just needs a chance, he’s had it rough for the last six or seven months.

"I have no doubt with a really good pre-season he’s going to be a force for us next year and we want to get that out of him.”