Richie Wellens offers hints as to how Doncaster Rovers will approach Rotherham United clash

Richie Wellens has hinted he may stick with a three man defence as Doncaster Rovers head to neighbours Rotherham United this weekend.

Friday, 27th August 2021, 12:00 pm
Richie Wellens

Wellens opted for a version of a 3-4-3 for the midweek trip to Stoke City in the Carabao Cup with injuries and absences somewhat forcing his hand.

The Rovers boss faces similar selection headaches heading into the weekend with the likes of Ro-Shaun Williams and Cameron John both highly doubtful to be declared fit.

But he also believes a three man back line could be the best option against the Millers’ physical forward ranks and their direct wingets.

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“I think if we were to play a back three against them, it would give us extra security against their two strikers,” Wellens said.

“They push both wing backs really high and when one wing back is out wide and crossing, they expect the other one to be in the box.

“They want it to be three v three in the box and with their physicality they’re capable of getting on the end of stuff.

“We need to be careful of that and an extra centre half in terms of playing a three would give us that more stability.

“We played well with a back three on Tuesday.

“Because Ben Blythe was making his debut, I wanted to protect him a little bit. There was a couple of others areas we needed to protect as well.“We need a definitive answer on Friday about who is fit and available to play and those that are available will impact what team and system we can play.”

Wellens has been reluctant to use a back three this season despite admitting it would allow him to get his most experienced players in the same side.

On Tuesday, following the early injury to John, his back three contained Kyle Knoyle, Ben Blythe and Branden Horton, with all three potential options again for this weekend.

While youngsters Blythe and Horton - as well as others elsewhere in the team - performed well against the Championship outfit in midweek, Wellens says it will be a completely different, and more challenging test, at the New York Stadium this weekend.

“Stoke are a good footballing team, they passed the ball in front of us and allowed us to block lines and a shape and distances were good,” Wellens said.

“This is a totally different animal.

“If we set up with a mid block like we did on Tuesday, against Rotherham it’s going up. They’re physical, they lean in, picking up second balls, midfield runners.

“It’s a totally different game.

“I’d imagine Ben Blythe hasn’t been subjected to that - two 6ft4 lads leaning in and getting their elbows across.

“It’ll be a totally different game to Stoke.”

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