Paul Goodwin's pre-match: The dilemma facing Doncaster Rovers boss Gary McSheffrey ahead of Cheltenham Town clash

Stick or twist. That’s essentially the dilemma facing Gary McSheffrey this weekend.

By Paul Goodwin
Friday, 4th March 2022, 5:38 pm
Mipo Odubeko
Mipo Odubeko

Stick with the ploy of sitting back, keeping it tight and then looking to nick one, which has generally worked well on the road recently? Go with five at the back again.

Or, with the onus very much on Doncaster Rovers now to win games in order to save their skin, roll the dice and take the game to Cheltenham? Go with the 4-4-2 that finished the game at AFC Wimbledon.

McSheffrey will most likely look to strike a balance at the Jonny-Rocks Stadium.

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He’s unlikely to completely rip up a defensive structure which has provided a foundation for the recent upturn in results, particularly against a side renowned for their direct approach and threat from set pieces.

But he knows full well that his team cannot afford to be as passive as they were at AFC Wimbledon last weekend when they started the game poorly and if felt somewhat inevitable that they would concede first.

Rovers simply have to be better on the ball so there might be a temptation, pending on his performances in training, to find a place for Ethan Galbraith in the starting XI, although the Manchester United loanee is most likely to be on the bench given the nice balance currently provided by Dan Gardner, Tommy Rowe and Matt Smith in midfield.

A change in personnel is possibly more likely further up the field with Mipo Odubeko knocking on the door to replace Josh Martin and provide Reo Griffiths with some much-needed support.

Two out-and-out strikers, combined with the back five, might just give McSheffrey the balance he requires for this game.

Sat four points from safety with 30 still to play for, Rovers are not at the point yet where they need to go gung-ho.

Rovers must be defensively strong first and foremost, lay a foundation. But they must also offer more attacking threat from the start, not just late on or when they are chasing the game.

What Gary McSheffrey said about the dilemma ahead of the game...

“That’s the juggling act. And with certain personnel coming back into the squad we’re quite strong in midfield areas at the minute.

“They’re the decisions that we’re going to have to make. Do you sacrifice a defender to get an attacker out there, or do you go with the clean sheet mentality where you know you can always nick something from a set play or from open play?

“They are the little dilemmas but we’ve got numbers and we’ve got players that are fit who can do a certain job for certain games. We’ll go with what we feel can win a game on the day.”