DONCASTER Rovers trialist defender Andy Griffin, who hopes to be involved in tonight’s League One game at Carlisle, is proving value for money for the high-flying League One club.
The 33 year-old former Stoke, Newcastle, Portsmouth and Reading star, is currently playing for Rovers on a match payments only deal whilst trying to win himself a contract at the League One club or another club as a result of being in the ‘shop window.’
Released by the promoted Royals at the end of last season, Griffin trained by himself during the close season after failing to find himself a new deal.
“I trained hard because at my age I knew that if I went to a club that I had to be able to hit the ground running and couldn’t afford to be a month or six weeks behind the other players as the manager would be wanting me to make an immediate impact,” he said.
“Having said that you only get match-fit by playing games; that’s when you get that sharpness you need. You can do all the running and work in the gym that you like but nothing beats playing games.”
Griffin admits that he was short of match fitness when coming on as a late replacement in the game against leaders Tranmere Rovers at Prenton Park.
“It was only 11 minutes but it seemed a lot longer because they were throwing everything at us and as the manager said after the game, it was a bit like the Alamo. We had to dig deep so to come away with a win was a great result.”
Griffin has got better the longer he has been at the club and had his best game in a Doncaster shirt at Fratton Park in Saturday’s 1-0 win at Portsmouth. “It can take players a while to settle in at a new club but they are a good group of players and they have been have been most welcoming and that has helped me settle in quickly,” he told The Star.
“I’ve also played against Rob Jones and Paul Quinn before so I knew that they were both rugged defenders and real men, so it has just been about fitting in and doing my job.”
Having helped Rovers keep a clean sheet at the weekend, Griffin is keeping his fingers crossed that manager Dean Saunders sticks by a winning team -particularly as he can’t recall having faced the Cumbrians on home soil before.
“I don’t know a great deal about them but I think it will be the same sort of game that I expect from every side in this league,” he said. “It’s going to be as tough as every game of football is at this level.
“It’s a lot more direct at this level and a bit more physical than either the Championship or the Premier League.
“I think it will be a battle and we’ve got to make sure that we are up for it both mentally and physically.”
Rovers will go into the game boosted by an impressive unbeaten record away from home in the league dating back two months.
“The win at Portsmouth on Saturday was a good result for us because we didn’t want to lose another game after losing two at home,” said Griffin.
“But even if we had lost we’d still have gone into tonight’s game with the right mentality and belief that we could win.
“It’s all about being positive. It’s like the manager says, if you take a knock you’ve got to get straight back up.”
Griffin has a lot of time for Saunders.
“I’m very appreciative of the manager giving me a chance to get a foothold in the game again,” he said
“I’ll certainly be trying to make the best of the chance and hopefully do enough to win myself a contract here but if not here for one reason or another then somewhere else.
“You are always more appealing to a manager looking for a player if you are playing rather than being out of the game.”
Teams and ref
CARLISLE (possible): Collin, Simek, Edwards, Murphy, Chantler, McGovern, Noble, Potts, Berrett, Higginbotham, Garner. (4-4-2).
Rovers (possible): G Woods, Griffin, Jones, Spurr, Husband, Cotterill, Keegan, Harper, M Woods, Hume, Brown/Paynter. (4-4-2).
Mark Brown (East Yorks): Issued 37 yellow and four red cards in 13 games this season. Took the Rovers-Leeds Carling Cup second round tie at the Keepmoat Stadium at the start of last season.