WITH competition for places in Doncaster Rovers midfield remaining keen, Paul Keegan hopes that he has done enough to retain his place in the side to entertain Bradford Park Avenue in tomorrrow’s FA Cup first round tie at the Keepmoat Stadium.
The Irishman put Rovers on their way to a third successive League One win in last Saturday’s 2-0 victory over Notts County at Meadow Lane, opening the scoring just past the hour mark with his first goal of the season.
“I’ve not got much experience of the FA Cup with spending a lot of my career playing in the Republic of Ireland, so I’m looking forward to the game and I hope to be involved,” he told The Star.
“I think the FA Cup is still a bit special for everyone and hopefully we can get on a bit of a cup run and do well, but first we’ve got to get past Bradford tomorrow. We played them in a pre-season friendly at their ground and we drew 3-3. I didn’t play but I was down there and they played some good football and they gave us a tough game.
“They started much better than us and I think that they had played more games than us and had a more settled side whereas the manager was still in the process of putting our team together. The grass was a bit long and the pitch was a bit bumpy and it was a hot day as well, neither of which helped us.
“As I say they played well and were quite physical so we won’t be taking them lightly and I think we’ve got to treat them like any other game and do things right on the day.
“We are also at home which will be an advantage - especially now that we are starting to get our act together at the Keepmoat - and hopefully we can move them around.
“I think that they will come and try and prove a point and I’m sure that one or two of them will also be looking to impress our manager because that is always the case in these sort of games. I’m certain that they’ll be up for it.
“It will be up to us to try and smash that confidence and hopefully once we’ve done that our creative skills will help us get on top as long as we put the work in like we’ve been doing in the league this season.
“We fell at the first hurdle last season, albeit it was the third round, against Notts County at home, which was disappointing.
“They actually came here and played very well on the day and I think they probably caught us by surprise, so we’ve got to guard against that tomorrow.
“But I think if we go out with the right attitude, and know that the opposition are going to give us a good test, then the chances of them pulling off a shock win are less than might otherwise be the case.”
Keegan is the only out-of-contract player at the club last season to still be here. That he played so few games and spent long periods on the treatment table or working on his rehab following knee surgery, makes that statistic even more remarkable.
Manager Dean Saunders saw something in Keegan which he felt would benefit the squad in League One, but only offered him a short-term deal which the midfielder hopes will be extended now he’s proved his fitness.