Four players who can take on more responsibility for Doncaster Rovers after Ben Whiteman's departure

Filling the shoes of Ben Whiteman will be no simple task for Doncaster Rovers.

Friday, 15th January 2021, 5:00 pm

The midfielder has been a vital part of the Rovers side for the last two and a half seasons, developing into the metronome that kept the tempo high and made possession play tick.

But he was also vital to the defensive effort, shielding the back four and dropping deep to ease pressure or to cover.

It cannot be doubted that the loss of Whiteman is a big blow for Rovers, and a big challenge for players and coaching staff alike to overcome.

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Ben Whiteman

If they are to maintain the excellent form they have shown far this season, they will need other members of the squad to fill the void.

Here, we look at some of the players who could come into increased prominence as the side compensates for Whiteman’s departure.

TAYLOR RICHARDS

When it comes to ball playing ability, there are few in the squad that can match the passing range of the Brighton and Hove Albion loanee. His close control and distribution are excellent, and can help Rovers get out of tight spots in the middle of the park as well as getting them on the front foot.

In last weekend’s win at Blackburn Rovers he demonstrated his ability to be a focal point in the side and an individual that play can be directed through. He received balls out from the back and moved possession on, into attacking areas well, particularly in linking up with Tyreece John-Jules.

Whiteman himself, following his departure, told the Free Press that Richards ‘could be anything on his day.’

REECE JAMES

Rovers’ Mr Versatility often partnered Whiteman in the holding midfield role over the first four months of the season - as well as his spells further up the pitch. And he has become accomplished in the position.

James also demonstrated that he can replicate aspects of Whiteman’s game. In the Papa John’s Trophy tie with Wolverhampton Wanderers U21 when the former skipper sat out, James appeared to be mimicking Whiteman’s role, with great effect.

His range of passing may not be as broad but he can be very neat and tidy in the middle of the park and provide the all-important defensive cover.

MATT SMITH

In terms of all action, all round midfielders, the Manchester City loanee stands out within the Rovers squad. He is a disruptive presence for opposition teams in the middle of the park, nipping the ball away from the toes of players and moving it on.

He has shown a good passing range, plus a desire to push forward from deep to join in attacks and craft opportunities around the edge of the box.

He seems the most likely candidate to get a regular run in the deeper midfield role and will see more responsibility placed on his shoulders following Whiteman’s departure.

TOM ANDERSON

Whiteman showed himself to be a born leader throughout his time as Rovers’ skipper, taking on the responsibility with real assuredness.

That responsibility now passes to centre half Anderson and the big man has big shoes to fill on the pitch. Whiteman was particularly vocal in the middle of the park and quick to voice his criticism if things were not going well.

It will be interesting to see Whiteman’s style of captaincy.

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In these confusing and worrying times, local journalism is more vital than ever. Thanks to everyone who helps us ask the questions that matter by taking out a subscription or buying a paper. We stand together. Nancy Fielder, editor.