Let's not dress it up – this is a difficult period for the Rovers. Marooned at the bottom of League One, fans are at odds with the owners and worst of all, no one seems to know when it’ll end.
It’s times like these when a new signing can rejuvenate a side – enter Joseph Olowu.
An inexperienced defender isn’t really what Rovers need at this time, as they already have them in spades. Despite this, Olowu showed some early promise in his debut against Wigan on Saturday.
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Donny succumbed to defeat, but it was clear that Olowu’s job was to keep targetman Charlie Wyke at bay – in this sense, he succeeded. It was an improvement from the last time Rovers went up against Wyke, that’s for sure. Olowu looked competent – but can he be more than that?
Olowu’s brief footballing history
Olowu began his foray into football with Arsenal’s youth academy. He joined them in 2008, when he was just eight years old.
While he never made a first team appearance for the Gunners, he had plenty of chances for their under-18s and under-23s teams. Here, he proved he could play as a right back as well as a centre back, making him a versatile defender.
He gained his initial experience of first team football at Cork City in 2020, for whom he made 16 appearances and scored a solitary goal. He only spent a short while there – his contributions were not enough to keep Cork in Ireland’s top flight.
Following this, later on in the 2020/21 season, he was loaned out to Wealdstone in the National League to try and stave off relegation. Thankfully for Olowu and the Royals, they finished two places away from the drop zone when the season ended.
Unfortunately, the Arsenal hierarchy decided not to offer Olowu a new contract and he was released after 13 years at the club. He spent a couple of games on trial with Manchester United’s under-23s team, before ultimately landing a short term deal at Doncaster.
Can he be a success at Doncaster?
Olowu has a very limited time to impress Richie Wellens and the Rovers faithful, as his contract expires in January. On the flipside, it’s likely he’ll get plenty of game time during this short window, given Rovers’ dire injury crisis that sees the centre half position particularly compromised.
With captain Tom Anderson currently injured, Olowu may suffer from not having an experienced defender at his side. Ro-Shaun Williams is fast and physical, but he’s not the commanding presence he needs to be alongside a young centre back.
This may lead to lapses in communication – something that definitely didn’t help when Wigan scored their second on Saturday from a simple set piece.
However, as previously mentioned, Olowu had a job to do against the Latics and performed it effectively. If anything, he was one of the better players for the Rovers at the DW Stadium.
Olowu can indeed be a success at Doncaster. But, it can’t be understated enough – it’s going to be tough for this young man, as it is for every Donny player this season.