Rovers Round-Up: 21/08
The controversy surrounding our midweek game with Bolton being cancelled has dominated the conversation around the club this week, but there’s plenty going on elsewhere. In our weekly round-up, we keep you up to speed with everything you might’ve missed regarding Doncaster Rovers in the past few days.
Jonathan Forte Retires
Former Rovers winger Jonathan Forte confirmed his retirement through injury yesterday in a statement put out by his current club Exeter City. Forte suffered a serious knee injury towards the back end of last season and has been unable to recover sufficiently to resume his career, which is a real shame for a player who has consistently scored goals at a variety of league clubs over the years.
It has been over a decade since the Sheffield-born forward played for the club, but he left his mark in Doncaster Rovers history during separate loan spells between 2005 and 2007. Forte scored one and set up another in the first ever game at the Keepmoat Stadium, a 3-0 win over Huddersfield, before etching his name in the record books by scoring the opening goal of the 2007 Football League Trophy Final after a mere 49 seconds, helping Rovers race into an early 2-0 lead against Bristol Rovers in a game we went on to win 3-2 in extra time, lifting the trophy for the first and only time in club history.
In total, Jonathan Forte scored 13 goals in 56 games for the Rovers and is fondly remembered around these parts. We wish him all the best for his future, whatever it may involve.
Joe Wright Suffers Setback
Meanwhile, current Rovers defender Joe Wright has suffered what manager Darren Moore termed a “minor setback” in his recovery from a knee injury picked up in pre-season. Wright, without a league start since last October due to a succession of injury problems, is being monitored and brought back into the fold steadily so that the club can give him the best chance of staying fit once he’s ready to return.
Wright was injured in a challenge during the friendly game with Hull, and his replacement Alex Baptiste has since suffered a season-ending injury of his own, leaving Rovers short of cover at the back. Tom Anderson and Cameron John are the only fit out-and-out senior central defenders at the club, although Ben Sheaf can deputise as he did at Rochdale, and development squad player Shane Blaney has also found himself included amongst the subs this season.
Herbie Kane: Just Visiting?
A keen spot at the Keepmoat last Saturday sent Rovers fans into a bit of a tizz online after former loan star Herbie Kane was noticed in attendance for the 3-2 win over Fleetwood. Kane, a stand-out performer in Grant McCann’s Play-Off side last season, is still at Liverpool despite being persistently linked with a loan move to the Championship, and with the window for the top two divisions now closed, a return to League One is a distinct possibility.
However, as much as we would all love to see Kane back in the Rovers midfield, the rumours have been curtailed by common sense. Reportedly, he was only in town on a free weekend to visit friends including former team mates Joe Wright and Kieran Sadlier, with Liam Hoden of the Doncaster Free Press dissuading the notion and manager Darren Moore putting it down to speculation when asked about the prospect of signing the Bristol-born midfielder.
Team of the Week nod for Coppinger
A sublime goal and an assist from James Coppinger propelled the Rovers to victory over Fleetwood last weekend, and in addition to his Man of the Match award at the game on Saturday, Copps’ performance has been noted with his inclusion in the EFL Team of the Week, alongside players across all three divisions. Coppinger was included in midfield alongside West Brom’s Grady Diangana and Macclesfield’s Theo Archibald, whilst a former Rovers team mate and upcoming opponent, Lincoln’s Harry Toffolo, was also selected.
U23 Squad Set For Season
The development squad has had its fixtures revealed for this season, with Rovers now housing a dedicated U23 side managed by former Rovers midfielder Gary McSheffrey. Implementing a formal side to bridge the gap between the youth academy and the first team was a priority of Grant McCann’s last season, and it has now come to fruition despite his departure. Rovers will play in the Central League, with home matches taking place at Cantley Park, and you can find out all of the details on the official Doncaster Rovers website.
Chas Walker Passes Away
Sad news to close on this week however, as Rovers’ honorary Vice President and lifelong supporter Chas Walker passed away earlier this week at the age of 90. Chas was well known to Rovers fans stretching back several generations, played a pivotal role in the fight against Ken Richardson in the 1990s and was heavily involved in the running of the Supporters’ Club for many years. Chas still managed to attend matches until last season despite suffering a life-changing heart attack during an FA Cup trip to Bournemouth in 2002 and will be missed by everyone in and around the club.
Our condolences are with his wife Pat, his family and friends during this difficult time.