Gary McSheffrey on the need for experience in his Doncaster Rovers side but facing a balancing act
Gary McSheffrey says he was determined to get more experience into his Doncaster Rovers side, even if it meant throwing players into the side earlier than he would have liked.
Having been forced to name youthful sides due to absences since initially taking over as caretaker manager, McSheffrey handed rare starts to Omar Bogle and Dan Gardner in the defeat at Morecambe.
And McSheffrey elected to play Tommy Rowe out of position at centre half to ensure he had an experienced head in the back line.
“I think Dan and Omar made good impacts against Sunderland when they came on,” McSheffrey told the Free Press.
“And with their strikers, we know they’re physical, they’ve got good nous about them, they can hold the ball up, so as much as I didn’t want to put Rowey at centre back, I felt physically I had to do it.
“I think it would have been a stretch too far for Ben Blythe and his physicality.
“We managed to get more experience into the team in key areas and it shone through in the first half.”
Rovers were in a commanding 3-0 lead by the break but both Bogle and Gardner - who had been key to the good start - were forced off injured.
Both had only returned to full training following injuries and McSheffrey says it is vital that all players are quickly conditioned for the demands of the fixture list.
“Because we wanted to get that experience in, we put them in a bit earlier than we might have done,” he said.
“It’s important we try to manage their load and get them up to speed.
“If we’re playing at that intensity in the first half, it’s important that you’re fit and ready.
“It just shows some of the boys haven’t got the minutes in their legs or the load capacity if we chuck them in too early.
“It’s the same with some of the others on the bench.
“We had Ro-Shaun Williams back on the bench. Because we had to make a couple of decisions early on, we didn’t have that little wildcard of chucking Ro-Shaun on to see the game out if we needed another defender on the pitch.
“And again, it would be too early for him. The last thing we want is people coming back and breaking down. That’s what happened a bit today.”
Goalscorer Gardner suffered a thigh strain in the first half while Bogle – on his first league start of the season – pulled his hamstring before leaving the field on 34 minutes.
Aidan Barlow was also forced off on the hour mark and McSheffrey says he was struggling with the after effects of a recent bout of Covid-19.