Why Doncaster Rovers boss Richie Wellens wants more Jon Taylors in his squad

It is an old cliche that a player returning from a long term injury can be like a new signing for a football club.

Friday, 15th October 2021, 6:00 pm
Jon Taylor

But if Jon Taylor was a new signing for Doncaster Rovers, he is exactly the sort that boss Richie Wellens would be on the lookout for.

Taylor is set to be part of a Rovers matchday squad this weekend for the first time since suffering a severe ankle injury in March.

And there is one particular attribute the winger possesses that Wellens is desperate to add to his squad.

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“If I’m looking to sign players, the first thing I look for is promotion from this league on the CV,” he told the Free Press.

“If you get 11 or 14 players that have won promotion from this league, you’ve got the know-how, irrespective of how they play.

“They’ve been through it and they know what’s required. They can play badly and win. They can play well and lose but know how to respond in the next game.

“He opens up avenues for us. He’s won promotion with Rotherham from this league.

“He’s got experience, character, pace to get us up the pitch and be an outlet.

“But more than anything it’s his know-how.”

The last seven months have been blighted by setbacks for the 29-year-old, who initially pencilled in for a return for the start of pre-season.

When it became clear the first couple of months of the campaign would come too soon for Taylor, Rovers were faced with a long stretch of matches without a key attacking player.

And Wellens is looking forward to having a different sort of weapon in his arsenal going forward.

“We know we can put Jon Taylor through with one ball,” he said.

“Rodrigo [Vilca] is more about operating in pockets, very technical, wanting to come inside, wanting to manipulate the ball.

“You know with Taylor that if you pick up the ball and if he’s got space to run into, he will do. You can score with one pass and he’ll bring a lot to us.”

The message has been very clear not to expect too much too soon from an explosive player who has sat out the last seven months, with his only match minutes coming in a single half in a friendly at Lincoln City earlier this week.

Wellens admits he will only use Taylor if necessary against Wycombe Wanderers this weekend and would prefer to hold him back.

Part of that is Taylor himself being mentally comfortable on the pitch, and having full faith in his ankle holding up.

Wellens said: “It’s more the tight areas, the twisting and turning and getting that full range of motion into the ankle.

“His ankle has been set in a certain way for a long time.

“If I hold your hand in a certain way and then let go, your movement is restricted.

“He’s had an operation on an ankle and it’s set in a way that needs some mobilisation every time he trains because it stiffens up.”

Taylor is one of the biggest characters in the Rovers squad and his manager is looking forward to having a vocal member of his group back on good form.

“He’s been brilliant at the training ground but it’s always difficult to get your full character out because you’re not playing,” he said.

“Players develop through playing games and you get your relationships there.

“He’s been brilliant. I’ve got a lot of time for him, he’s a great lad.

“I’m gutted that he’s been out for so long but his time has come where he’s fit and we can get him firing.”

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In these confusing and worrying times, local journalism is more vital than ever. Thanks to everyone who helps us ask the questions that matter by taking out a subscription or buying a paper. We stand together. Liam Hoden, editor.