THE last time Doncaster Rovers played Southampton - back in the 2008-09 campaign at St Mary’s - midfielder Simon Gillett was an unused substitute on the Saints’ bench.
Rovers won 2-1 on that occasion and Gillett, now an established regular in the Doncaster side, doesn’t rule out a similar result in Saturday’s clash at the Keepmoat Stadium - even though it’s a top-versus-bottom clash.
“We may be struggling but we’ll be striving to try and get a win and we’ll be giving it everything,” said Gillett, who joined Rovers on a permanent basis in after a successful spell on loan 18 months ago.
“With Southampton being my former club it’s a game I have been looking forward to ever since the fixtures came out in the summer.
“They have a couple of lads that I keep in touch with - Kelvin Davis and Adam Lallana - but I know most of their squad to be honest because there haven’t been that many changes since I left.”
Saints will check in at the Keepmoat two points clear at the top of the Championship having equalled Liverpool’s post-war record of 21 successive home wins after coming from behind to beat Hull City 2-1 in midweek
“They’ve not surprised me how well they have done to be honest,” said Gillett, who can see them emulating Norwich’s feat of back-to-back promotions.
“After many years of problems behind the scenes they’ve now got a solid board and they’ve got plenty of money behind them and a big fan base and a great stadium,” he said. “It’s a Premier Division club in all but name.
“The facilities are top notch and they are re-building their training ground so I imagine that they’ll go from strength to strength.
“I think manager Nigel Adkins is a well respected coach and he’s obviously gone down there and put his ideas across.
“I’ve spoken to several players and they enjoy him being down there and they like the way he works and Saints are reaping their rewards on the pitch.
“I think they’ll come here and have a go at us; I think that they do that against everyone.
“They’ve got a lot of attacking players including striker Ricky Lambert. He’s got 14 goals and he’s a threat from set-pieces as well as from open play. “Lallana (who has seven goals) is key to everything they do.
“They’ve got a good attacking system and will cause us problems but we kept a clean sheet in our last home game and we’ll be looking to do more of that in future home games.
“We had a disappointing result at Millwall in midweek. We would probably have settled for a draw on the night but we had gone there to win.
“The position that we are in we can’t afford to lose games’ we need to pick up points and build momentum.”
Gillett dispelled fans’ fears that the influx of players on short-term contracts has had an adverse effect on team spirit.
“The team spirit is still good,” he insists.
“The lads who have come in on loan have been made welcome by those who were already here and they’ve all fitted in well.
“There have never been any cliques whilst I’ve been here. We are open and we talk to each other. The new players who come in are looking to conform to that way of thinking as well.”
Rovers’ boss Dean Saunders will be checking on Habib Beye and Herold Goulon, who both came off in the second half of the Millwall game, at today’s training session, as well as skipper George Friend who has missed the last two games with an ankle injury.
Rovers will again be without centre-back Adam Lockwood, who completes a three-match ban following his red card in the game at Oakwell.
Rovers have decided to introduce a half season ticket covering the last 12 home games of the season starting with the visit of local rivals Barnsley on January 2.
The new tickets will cost: adults (£264), concessions (£204), 17-20 year olds (£144), 12-16 year olds (£40) and 11 and Under (£20).
The new tickets, which club officials hope will prove popular over the festive period, are now on sale at the ground.
The club have revealed that they paid out £152,096 to licensed agents between October 1, 2010 and September 30, 2011.
The figure includes all payments made to agents including payments made on behalf of contracted players.