Doncaster Rovers: Jones never concerned about step up to Championship

Rob Jones
Rob Jones

Was Rob Jones concerned about his own ability to step up to the Championship? Don’t be daft.

When asking such a question, one would expect short shrift, no matter the real truth behind the answer.

But with Jones, when he says no, you take him at his word.

Despite his mammoth performances for Rovers last season, there were more than a handful of people holding slight concerns about the big man’s ability to cut it in a higher division, particularly with the quality of opposition the likes of Saturday’s hosts Reading would bring.

Impressive performances so far this season have significantly eased any worries on that score. Not that Jones had any niggling doubts.

“It is a big step up for me, coming to end of the playing career but no, I never had any doubts about it,” Jones told the Star.

“I’m one of these old fashioned footballers, I just love playing football and everything else is just second.

“The longer I play football for, the better for me.

“I just love playing football and like every other player I want to play at the highest level possible.

“At this present moment in time, that is what I’m doing.”

Jones steadfastly refuses to talk about his own performances so will not enter in a discussion on how well he adapted to life in his second tier.

But he was quick to lavish praise on centre half partner Bongali Khumalo with whom he has forged an impressive pairing.

He said: “He’s come in and done really well.

“He wasn’t someone I knew before and we played just that one friendly at Bradford with before the start of the season.

“Bongs is getting better all the time. He’s strong, powerful and quick and he’s got very good attributes for a centre half.

“He listens to me as well, which most of them don’t. He wants to learn and get better.

“He’s refreshing because he’s always got a smile on his face and he wants to be here.

“He’s done really well and long may that continue.

“It’s always difficult when you try and put a new back four together but we’ve had to do that.

“Bongs has been terrific. The more games we play together, the better the partnership will be.

“We’ve started really well and clicked really quickly.

“I’ve played alongside a lot of footballers in the time whereas he’s just starting out so he’s got it all to come.

“You know as an individual what you need to do on the football pitch and if you listen to each other, help each other and have respect for each other it helps.”

Jones is well placed to discuss Rovers’ transition from League One to the Championship, having been at the heart of the promotion-winning set up last term.

The 33-year-old is delighted that Paul Dickov shares his disdain for ‘big time Charlies’ and has been keen to build a squad on togetherness.

“That is a big thing at this club,” he said.

“I personally don’t like these big time Charlies and I think as a club we’re not interested in those sort of players. We are a group that is very together.

“We look after each other, we help each other and I think you see that out on the pitch each weekend.

“We’re all mucking in together and working really hard together.

“It’s was like it last season and the players that came in over the summer continued in that vein.

“It’s great when it’s a pleasure to come into work and you all get along and all look out for each other. But the be all and end all, you’ve got to put it out on the pitch.

“If you transfer what goes on off the pitch to on it, here especially, we’ll be alright.”

Another factor which Jones identified as helping Rovers settle back into Championship life is having the right type of experience in the squad.

He said: “The players that were already here and the ones that have come in all have Championship experience.

“It’s not new to them which is the main pivotal point. They’ve been here before and done it before.

“I think bodes well for us for the future.”

Following the superb defensive performance against Leicester last time out, Jones expects Rovers to be called upon for more of the same this weekend.

He said: “They’ve got to come at us and we’ve got to defend very well and be on top of our game to get anything from it.

“We go there very confident. We go into games embracing them and not worrying about this that and the other.”

Concern? What concern?