N0-ONE at Doncaster Rovers is probably more pleased that manager Dean Saunders has recently brought in several defenders to bolster his back-four than keeper Gary Woods.
With George Friend only featuring in the odd game before his move to Middlesbrough, and the injured Shelton Martis yet to make an appearance this summer, Rovers were forced to field a patched-up back-four in a number of their pre-season matches. - not an ideal situation for a keeper.
Not that the 21-year-old Woods complained. He just got on with it.
“Things like that happen in pre-season,” he said. “But the manager brought Rob Jones in, who is a brilliant signing for us because you know what you are going to get from him.
“He’s very experienced and helps out the other defenders. He also played in League One last season so he knows what to expect.”
Woods also expects Paul Quinn and latest signing Jamie McCombe to make a similar impact.
Because of the team’s defensive problems on occasions, Woods was called upon to make more saves than he probably would have liked but he acquitted himself well - particularly in the games against Sheffield Wednesday, Hull City and Barnsley.
“At the end of the day I was just doing my job,” he told The Star. “I feel that I am in good form at the minute and it is just a case of trying to maintain that and play well throughout the season.
“I think pre-season went well - not just for me but for the team,” said Woods. “Despite playing three Championship sides we had some good results
“We played eight games and I think it was a good mixture and, as I say, we came out well even though we were a few players short.
“Because we were short of players in certain positions, some of the lads had to play virtually every game prior to the last game at Gainsborough last week.
“I played in most of the games but it didn’t bother me because it’s all good experience. But for some of the lads it has been demanding playing 90 minutes as well as training hard.
“On the plus side everyone started the season probably fitter than they might otherwise have been.”
Rovers booked their place in the second round of the Capital One Cup on Saturday after beating League Two newcomers York City on penalties at the Keepmoat Stadium
“It was an important game to win,” said Woods.
“Not only did we want to make progress in the competition, but we wanted to go into tomorrow’s opening League One game at Walsall with a win under our belts.
“It wouldn’t have been a disaster had we lost, and we would have put it behind us and just got on with it in training this week.”
Woods takes a similar stance on events last season.
“What happened last season happened and it’s all in the past,” he said. “But everyone is happy and there is a good spirit in the camp.
“Everyone is looking forward to try and get climbing up the league again and hopefully we can get back to where we belong.”
Saunders has hinted he is prepared to bring in another goalkeeper should Woods’ form dip at any stage. He is monitoring Nicky Weaver’s situation at Sheffield Wednesday. The Sheffield-born player has not been given a squad number by Owls chief Dave Jones.
Rovers are down to the bare bones in the goalkeeping department, with Neil Sullivan sidelined by a thumb problem. Saunders has told The Star Sullivan has had an injection to rectify the issue but insists he is not ready to return to the first-team fold.
Meanwhile, Rovers have received an initial allocation of 606 tickets for the trip to Colchester United next month. Tickets will go on sale to season ticket holders on Monday for the clash at the Weston Homes Community Stadium, which takes place on September 15, kick-off 3pm.
WALSALL (possible): Grof; Holden, Butler, Taundry; Featherstone, Chambers; Paterson, Cuvelier, Hemmings, Grigg (4-2-3-1).
ROVERS (possible): Woods; Quinn, Jones, McCombe, Spurr; Cotterill, Keegan, Woods, Coppinger or Bennett; Paynter, Brown (4-4-2).
REFEREE: Mark Heywood (Cheshire): Issued just one red card last season.