STRIKER Chris Brown’s second spell at Doncaster Rovers has not so far proved as productive as his first.
The 27 year-old joined Rovers on loan from Sunderland back in the 2003-04 season and scored 10 goals as Dave Penney’s side won promotion from the Third Division at the first attempt on their return to the Football League after five years in the Conference.
He was brought back to the club by Sean O’Driscoll in the summer after he rejected the offer of a new deal from Preston North End, who had paid Norwich City £400,00 for him.
Brown was on the bench in the opening game of the season, but with Billy Sharp and James Hayter both carried off in that game, he started the next four, scoring one of the goals in the 3-0 Carling Cup win over Tranmere Rovers.
But a knee problem he had been carrying since pre-season, flared up again and he hasn’t played first-team football since.
“I had surgery but tried to come back too soon and the knee wasn’t strong enough and it started to swell up again so I was given six weeks of strengthening work,” said the 6’ 3” striker. “ But I’m back now feeling fine. I’m back working with the lads and I’m continuing to work on my own in the gym.
“I’ve played in a couple of practice games and scored a goal in the 1-1 draw against Alfreton Town. It’s not quite the same feeling as scoring in a league match but it’s a good habit to get into.
“I’m still not as sharp as I want to be, but that is only to be expected. I’ve been out five or six months and it will take time.
“The only way I’ll get my sharpness back is by playing games.
“I think I’m ready to play a game, either starting or on the bench, but it’s up to the manager.
“We’ve got a lot of games coming up this month so I’m hoping to get a chance.
“It’s been frustrating being out injured and you want to be part of it. But if you are out injured there’s not a lot you can do about it and you’ve just got to work hard, as I have been doing, when you get back training.”
Rovers are two games into a gruelling schedule of nine games in 28 days but Brown says the glut of fixtures need not be a bad thing.
“When you are playing Saturday-Tuesday like we will be doing for the rest of the month, it can work in your favour if you pick up a win like we did at Nottingham Forest on Tuesday,” he said. “Confidence is high and if you get on a good run you can’t wait for the next game to come along.”
Although unlikely to be involved tomorrow, Brown said he would have no problem if he was; “I played at Upton Park for Sunderland in the top flight and it’s a ground with a great atmosphere,” he said. “They’ve got a support base but the fans (as at other clubs) will turn if you can keep them quiet for half-an-hour or so and that’s what we’ll be looking to do.
Relegated from the top flight last season, the Hammers are looking well placed to bounce straight back.
“I think they will go back up this year.” said Brown. “They’ve got a lot of experienced lads who have played in the Premier League and a manager who has worked in the Premier League.”
But Brown is more concerned with Rovers staying in the Championship.
“We’ve got a tough run-in but we can do it,” he said. “Our home games are the most important. If we can win all our home games we’ll stay up - it’s as simple as that.
“We’re getting our home form right and we’re becoming hard to beat at the Keepmoat.”
Brown also feels the club’s away record could also improve following the midweek win at at the City Ground.
“We’d not won away for four months but we’d still played well and should have picked up more points than we did,” he said. “We should certainly have beaten Leeds after leading 2-0.”
Teams and ref
WEST HAM (possible): West Ham United (possible) Green, O’Brien.McCartney, Faye, Faubert, Noble, Nolan, Taylor, Tomkins, Cole, Maynard (4-4-2).
Rovers (possible): keme, Chimbonda/O’Connor, Beye, Martis, Spurr/Illunga, Coppinger, Barnes, Gillett, Bennett, Bagayoko, Diouf.
Andy d’urso (Essex): Will be in charge of a Rovers’ game for the second time this season. TBooked five players, including James O’Connor, Habib Beye and Simon Gillett in Rovers’ 3-2 defeat at Millwall in November. He booked two home players in West Ham’s 4-0 home rout of Blackpool.
The clubs will be meeting for the first time at Upton Park since the 1967-58 campaign which ended in Rovers being relegated from the old Second Division. The Hammers won 2-1 at Belle Vue after earlier being held to a 1-1 draw at home.
Rovers, who were beaten 1-0 at home by the Hammers in their first home league game of the season, have won three times at Upton Park, the last time being back in the 1954-55 season. The Londoners got their revenge the following year when dishing out a 6-1 beating - still their biggest ever win over Rovers.