Doncaster Rovers: Richie Wellens’ blunt pre-season assessment

Richie Wellens
Richie Wellens

If there is one person at Doncaster Rovers to deliver a blunt assessment of the current situation, Richie Wellens can be guaranteed to give it.

The veteran midfielder could be labelled as opinionated, but straight-talking is probably a better way of putting it.

He has been there and seen it all during his football career and he knows there is no point in getting excited about a team’s prospects before a ball has been kicked.

So, as the anticipation of the first game rises, Wellens reliably and predictably has his feet firmly on the ground.

“It’s difficult to know where we are really,” the 35-year-old said.

“We’ve played teams that are better than us in pre-season which means they have more of the ball.

“I would imagine the tactics will be different when we play in the league so it’s really early to say.

“We could probably do with two or three new players if we’re being honest.

“If you look at the bare XI, it looks as though we’re not going to be too bad.

“It’s just a bigger squad we probably need.”

Much has been made of the fact Rovers finally experienced an uneventful summer, one where the future of the club was not in question.

A year ago, Wellens was on the verge of leaving the club as a relegation release clause presented him with a future elsewhere. It was not until well into the first month of the season that his stay was finalised.

One year on, he says a stable pre-season looks to have made a big difference.

He said: “The last couple of pre-seasons we’ve had people who obviously started the season without contracts, waiting for phone calls to have a contract.

“All of a sudden the contract is there, then it’s not, then it’s back. It was upsetting for everyone.

“And we probably didn’t get our settled team out until probably November or December last season.

“This year the manager has had a chance to have everyone settled and it’s looking all right so far.”

As Rovers’ pass master, Wellens is pleased to see the Keepmoat pitch looking plush after the playing surface problems of recent years.

He said: “It’s still firm. A lot of lads are still pretty tight afterwards and it needs watering.

“It was like a bouncy ball last season and you just couldn’t trust it, you couldn’t play first time balls. The quality of football probably suffered as a result.

“But we’ve seen some good passing from us and the opposition in pre-season and it’s a lot better than last year.”

Trademark honesty again from Wellens.