Gary McSheffrey namechecks the Doncaster Rovers debutants that caught his eye in Bradford City draw

Gary McSheffrey singled out several debutants for praise after Doncaster Rovers’ opening day draw against Bradford City.

Tuesday, 2nd August 2022, 9:22 am

The Rovers boss gave debuts to no fewer than eight players as his side earned a 0-0 draw against the much-fancied Bantams despite being down to ten men for more than half the game.

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Harrison Biggins, Kyle Hurst, James Maxwell, George Miller and Lee Tomlin all started at the University of Bradford Stadium with Josh Andrews, Jack Degruchy and Adam Long appearing off the bench.

Doncaster Rovers boss Gary McSheffrey. Photo: Bruce Rollinson.

Six of the new faces were under the age of 24, which was the average age of the 15 players McSheffrey used in West Yorkshire.

Ironically, with the visitors under pressure for large periods, it was their oldest player, Tomlin, who let the side down with a ‘stupid’ red card in first-half stoppage time.

Tomlin aside, McSheffrey was happy with what he saw from the new boys.

He said: "James started slow but I thought he came into the game and defended well. He got the grips with the diagonal where they were peeling onto him quite a lot in the first-half.

"Kyle worked hard. He knew it was never going to be a day for him to be dribbling. It was a mature, solid performance. George put a shift in and ended up at right-back a couple of times.”

McSheffrey added: "Josh came on and just tried to be a nuisance. But we knew we weren’t going to create lots of chances. For all the non-entertainment football reasons, they were great debuts.

"Is that how we want to play going forward? No. We just had to adapt, roll our sleeves up, and try and get something out of the game.”

McSheffrey also reserved praise for Kyle Knoyle, who played 90 minutes despite only returning to action in Rovers’ final pre-season friendly against FC United of Manchester following hernia surgery.

He said: “Knoyley was brilliant coming back, having only played half an hour.

"He’s not a debutant, but he’s not had a pre-season.”

It was goalkeeper Jonathan Mitchell who got his nod for man of the match, however.

McSheffrey said: “We were getting frustrated with Johnny for over-hitting his goal kicks and slicing some out of play but to take as many crosses as he did, under that pressure, I’d go for him.”