Doncaster Rovers: Coppinger focusing on pre-season progress on testimonial day

Rovers' friendly clash with Middlesbrough this afternoon will be a testimonial game for James Coppinger
Rovers' friendly clash with Middlesbrough this afternoon will be a testimonial game for James Coppinger

Sentimentalism might be the order of the day at the Keepmoat but man of the moment James Coppinger says his primary focus is another strong pre-season outing.

Rovers host Middlesbrough this afternoon in a friendly that will double up as a testimonial for the long-serving midfield ace.

And while delighted to have the honour bestowed upon him – particularly coming against his hometown club – Coppinger is looking for further progress ahead of the new season.

“We put in a great performance against Nottingham Forest in midweek so hopefully we can do that again,” Coppinger said.

“Middlesbrough are organised, the manager had got them playing really well and they’ll be very tough for us.

“I think they’re going to be real contenders again this season so it’ll be good to see how we cope with that.”

Coppinger appears almost embarrassed by the attention he has received in his testimonial year.

But he insists he appreciates the celebration of a Rovers career which began 11 years ago.

He said: “I’m not one for attention really.

“It’ll probably sink in more when I stop playing.

“It’s great and humbling for the fans to show their appreciation.

“It’s just one of those things for me.

“I’ve had a fantastic 12 seasons here and to play Middlesbrough at the Keepmoat is something I’ve been really looking forward to.

“I’m just going to enjoy it and hopefully have a good game and do well because it’s my hometown club.

“All my family are from Middlesbrough and support the club and it’ll be great to have them here.”

Coppinger was at Wembley in May with his two sons, father and grandfather to witness Boro’s loss in the Championship play-off final against Norwich City.

He said: “I’ve been to Wembley three times with Middlesbrough now and I’ve never seen them win. I thought it might change.”

Coppinger will be joined in the Rovers side this afternoon by Richie Wellens, who sat out Tuesday night’s draw with Nottingham Forest due to a calf strain.

But Paul Keegan, Nathan Tyson and new signing Richard Chaplow will once again miss out.

Both Keegan and Tyson should be fit to face Premier League Sunderland on Wednesday while Chaplow continues his recovery from a knee issue suffered in training.

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