Rovers’ chance to turn tables

Sam Hird
Sam Hird

CENTRE-back Sam Hird is hoping that he did enough in Saturday’s 3-1 defeat against Portsmouth at Fratton Park to retain his place in the Doncaster back-four in tomorrow’s home game against the Sky Blues.

The Doncaster-born defender had to wait for his chance to impress new boss Dean Saunders until last week’s midweek game against Blackpool at Bloomfield Road.

He made the most of his chance - producing an outstanding display - and deservedly kept his place in the side to face Pompey.

“I enjoyed being back in the team and doing well,” he told The Star. “I wanted to play well, especially with it being for a new manager.

“He’d seen me play in a couple of practice games but you can’t compare them with league games.

“I tried to impress him in those games, as did a few others who hadn’t had a chance to show him what they could do in the first-team.

“The people in the team when the manager first came had the first bite of the cherry, but now a few others, including myself, have also had their chance.

“I was a bit nervous before the Blackpool game in a strange way because I wanted to do well. A lot of footballers get nervous before every game - though some don’t - but I don’t think it is a particularly bad thing if you are.

“Obviously I didn’t want to blow my chances and be back on the fringes for a few weeks, so it was nice to put in a good performance and keep my place in the team as I would have been disappointed if I had been left out.

“It was the first time that the back-four had played together at Blackpool, but it wasn’t a problem for me because we changed the back-four a lot last season as well (due to injuries) and I’d also played alongside George (Friend) before. You’ve just got to try and perform in whatever team the manager puts out.

“We are all good players in our respective positions and whoever plays we’ve got to gel as a team on the day.

“There is a lot of competition for places and hopefully we can put that to good use to push us up the table.”

Arguably the most vulnerable of the back-four on duty at Fratton Park, Hird faces an anxious wait to see whether Saunders makes changes after seeing Rovers concede what he described as ‘three terrible goals.’

Although grateful to previous boss Sean O’Driscoll for bringing him to the club from Leeds United Reserves five years ago. Hird felt he wasn’t playing enough football and welcomed the arrival of Saunders and viewed it as an opportunity to boost his appearances.

“He’s settled in well and we are all adapting to his style of play and we are all getting stuck in together,” he said.

“Different managers have different ideas and under Dean Saunders there is more intensity and the training sessions are shorter. That’s what the new manager wants to do and we are 100 per cent behind him.

“He’s tried to instil more belief in the side, especially when we are in the final third, and he wants to see a better end product. He also wants us to see off teams when we’re in front.”

Saunders has enjoyed a bit of a roller-coaster ride since taking over, picking up seven points from his first three games in charge and drawing a blank from the last three.

Hird is hoping that Rovers can end that sequence against fourth-bottom Coventry.

“We should be looking to pick up three points,” he said.

“They’ve been a bit up and down this season, though they picked up a good point at Leeds which will have given them a bit of a boost.

“But we are at home and we’re bidding to turn the Keepmoat into a fortress, hopefully starting tomorrow.”