Richie Wellens makes admission about missing piece in Doncaster Rovers jigsaw

Richie Wellens has admitted that his Doncaster Rovers squad still lacks a midfield destroyer – and have suffered as a result so far this season.

Friday, 17th September 2021, 6:00 am
Richie Wellens. Picture by Steve Flynn/AHPIX.com

Wellens spoke openly about the dynamics of his midfield ahead of this weekend’s clash with Morecambe at the Keepmoat Stadium, with his side chasing their first win of the season at the tenth attempt.

Rovers’ boss identified the holding midfield position, occupied superbly by Ben Whiteman prior to his departure in January, as a key area to strengthen shortly after his arrival at the club.

But his budget was unable to stretch that far in the summer transfer window – which has forced him to play Ben Close, Ethan Galbraith, Matt Smith and John Bostock in various combinations in an attempt to find the right balance of midfield craft and resolve.

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"I don't think we have coped," admitted Wellens, when asked by the Free Press how his team have managed without that recognised midfield anchorman.

“I still think we lack someone with defensive-minded responsibilties in the middle of park, who is athletic and can break the game up and when he gets the ball can play one and two touch and simplifies the game.

“I think we've got four really good midfield players.

“But I think in terms of that defensive solidarity we're probably still lacking that a little bit, so we need to tweak things to make sure we're switched on and things don't escalate before it gets to that area of the pitch.”

Rovers’ new midfield unit, which is unquestionably high on technical ability, has faced accusations of being too lightweight from some quarters.

So does Wellens feel like he needs his midfielders to be more aggressive?

"Matt Smith is a really good presser but he's more of a nicker,” he said.

“Ben Close and Ethan Galbraith can start bringing that more into their game.

“When you look at John Bostock physically he has all the physical attributes to carry that out.

“So it's about them taking on board what we want to do.

“For example the first 20 minutes at Rotherham I wanted John Bostock to be a front screen to make it difficult for [Michael] Smith to get any free headers and then make sure Tommy Rowe and Ro-Shaun Williams behind them are defensively pretty solid.

"But we never did that, so that's just about taking the information on board.”

Tommy Rowe could also potentially move into Rovers’ midfield but Wellens is reluctant to take him away from the left back berth.