Doncaster Rovers have a terrible recent record against Walsall. Grant McCann should know.
Fans and players alike have been reminding the Rovers manager all week that his new side have lost their last seven league games against the Saddlers.
The Northern Irishman is determined to end that record when the two sides meet on Saturday.
McCann on Walsall
The Bescott Stadium was the venue for Rovers’ worst performance of the 2017-18 season.
Rovers were 3-0 down at halftime and despite a late come-back, succumbed to a woeful 4-2 defeat.
McCann is looking to use last season’s horror show as motivation for Saturday.
“The boys who played there last season will be drumming that into the group, without me saying too much about it because it’s in the past. As is the Luton game last week.
“We’ve got to re-focus and be ready.
“What happened last season happened. It’s never an easy place to go to anyway. But I know the record for this club hasn’t been good there.
“So we want to make sure we re-write that and come out of it with a good result.”
Walsall have defied expectations so far and sit fifth in the table. The Saddlers are one of five unbeaten sides in League One, despite being tipped by the majority of pundits to struggle.
So has Grant McCann been surprised by the start made by Dean Keates’ side?
“I’m not really surprised by how they’ve started, I saw what Dean [Keates] did at Wrexham.
“He’s had to re-jig things. He lost some good players; Bakayoko, Oztumer, to name a couple. He’s replaced them with good quality in [Andy] Cook and [Morgan] Ferrier.
“We know it’s going to be a tough game but we have to make sure we go there and stamp our authority on the game.
“There are threats in their team. If we can nullify that and concentrate on our strengths then I don’t see any reason why we can’t go there and get a result.”
McCann on team news
Rovers have no fresh injury problems ahead of this weekend’s game. Loan star Herbie Kane is fully fit again after training all week and will be in contention to face Walsall.
Midfielder Ali Crawford is set to return to training on Monday after a six-month absence through a knee injury.
McCann also said he’s hopeful that Tommy Rowe may be back from injury sooner than the original 10-week prediction.
However, he stressed the midfielder will not be rushed back.
“Tommy’s come in this morning and he’s a lot better. Timescale wise I’m not sure. That (10 weeks) is probably a worst case scenario.
“Knowing Rowey (Tommy Rowe), knowing the physio we’ve got, we’ll try and get him back quicker.
“We can’t rush him. It’s not a contact injury, it’s a hamstring injury where it takes time.”
McCann on proving people wrong
Like Walsall, Doncaster Rovers were widely tipped to struggle by pundits this season.
Both sides have made impressive starts to the season with the Saddlers sitting 5th and Rovers just three points behind them in 7th.
McCann revealed that his side are motivated to prove the doubters wrong.
“I think we’ve changed people’s opinions on us this year.
“A lot of people in the media and the bookies had us down for finishing just above the relegation zone.
“Now we’re changing people’s opinions, which is good. But we want to keep doing that and keep proving them wrong.
“It’s plastered all around the training ground, where the bookies tipped us. So the players know about that.”
I wonder if my pre-season prediction has a place on the wall. It’s fair to say my 19th-placed finish for Rovers is looking fairly silly thus far.
Alongside the media predictions, there’s also stadiums from League One and the Championship stuck up around the training ground asking players where they would rather play next season.
Kingsmeadow or Pride Park? It’s clear which ground Grant McCann would like to be taking his Rovers team next season.