DONCASTER Rovers’ defender James Chambers will again be sitting out tomorrow’s home game against Cardiff City but he hopes it won’t be too long before he is challenging for a place in Dean Saunders’ squad.
The 31-year-old full-back, who has yet to feature this season following a major knee operation early last year, played for a few minutes in an in-house practice match on Tuesday.
“There might be one or two of the other injured players, such as Tommy Spurr, back before me, but I’m hoping to be back in full training sometime this month,” he said.
“It’s been slow but I’ve had no setbacks so it is probably better doing it that way than trying to rush back and risk breaking down as happened last season.
“I’m doing a lot of strenuous work at the moment with Mal Purchase, and some double sessions, but I’m hoping it will all pay off and that when I do get back I will be that much stronger.
“But after being out for 10 months I will also need to play a few practice games.”
With Rovers having a blank weekend following the trip to Bristol City tomorrow week due to their early exit from the FA Cup, manager Dean Saunders is thought likely to try and arrange at least one behind-closed-doors friendly to give players on the comeback trail some game time and Chambers could be one of the players to benefit.
“It depends on how things are and what the manager wants me to do,” said Chambers.
Reflecting on the FA Cup defeat, Chambers said: “Obviously when you aren’t playing it’s difficult because you want the lads to do well and you want to see them get through so that they might draw a big club in the next round.
“But Notts County have some good players, so it didn’t surprise me how well they played and their manager, Martin Allen, knows how to get players up for games.
“I played under him at Leicester for a short time before I came to Doncaster and he is a very good motivator and that enthusiasm and spirit rubs off on the team. It was always going to be a tough game but with the quality of the squad I think that we fancied our chance of winning.
“The positives from the game were the return of Martin Woods, who had been out since early last year, and John Oster, following his neck operation.
“The reception that Martin got when he came on after such a long time out will have given him a great lift.
“Being out injured myself I’ve seen the huge amount of effort that he put in in training. As everyone knows he’s had a setback here and there but when he has he’s shown a very good mental character and I’ve no doubt that he’ll get back to his best soon.
“Both Martin and John are influential players and hopefully they’ll help us in terms of our league position.”
“It was disappointing to go out of the FA Cup last week but the league is our priority.
“Before the Notts County game we’d been playing well at home but sometimes when you get beat your confidence goes.
“We’ve got to try and bounce back against a very good Cardiff side tomorrow in what is sure to be a tough game.
“Malky Mackay, who is a friend of mine, is proving to be a very good manager.
“I played with Malky at Watford when we won promotion to the Premier League. He was captain of the side and very influential in the dressing room and he has taken those characteristics into management.
“He did a very good job at Watford on a tight budget and now he’s showing what he can do with a bigger budget at a bigger club at Cardiff.”
Teams and ref
Rovers (possible): Button; O’Connor, Hird, Lockwood, Beye; Coppinger, Stock, Gillett, Bennett, Sharp, Diouf/Hayter (4-4-2).
Cardiff (possible): Heaton; Blake, Hudson, Turner; Taylor, Cowie, Whittingham, Gunnarsson, Ralls; Mason, Miller (4-4-2).
OLIVER LANGFORD (West Midlands): Will be be taking charge of a Rovers’ game for the second time this season after taking Rovers’ game at Derby in August where he booked skipper George Friend. Mr Langford, who has only officiated at six Championship games this season, has handed out 56 yellow cards and five reds in his 21 games.
Tomorrow’s game will be the eighth between the clubs at Championship level with the Bluebirds having enjoyed the better of the exchanges.
The Welsh side have won the last four meetings - a sequence which includes a 2-0 home win over Rovers in the opening weeks of the season.
They did the double over Rovers last season, winning 3-1 in the return at the Keepmoat Stadium after romping to a 4-0 home win.
Rovers’ last win over the Bluebirds was in the 2009-10 season when goals by James Hayter and Adam Lockwood secured them a 2-0 home win.
A Lewis Guy goal earned Rovers a 1-1 home draw in their first home game at Championship level in the 2008-09 season.
One to watch
Malky Mackay did a good bit of business when signing Scottish international striker Kenny Miller in the summer. Miller has scored goals wherever he’s gone and is the Bluebirds’ leading scorer thiis season with nine - eight of them coming in the Championship.
The 31-year-old has played for both Scottish giants Rangers and Celtic, and spent five seasons at Wolves for whom he scored 24 goals in the 2002--3 season and 20 in 2004-05.
He ended last season playing for Turkish side Bursaupor, for whom he scored six goals in 15 games.