DEAN Saunders is set to shuffle his pack for Saturday’s visit of Stevenage as Rovers prepare for an early-season fixture pile-up.
Rovers face five games over the next fortnight - including next week’s long trip to Norwich City in the Capital One Cup - hard on the heels of positive results at Colchester United and Sheffield United.
Saunders has kept faith with almost the same starting line-up for Rovers’ opening five League One games, resisting sweeping changes following defeats to Crawley and Yeovil.
Indeed his only change in the league came on Saturday when Paul Keegan replaced the injured Billy Paynter for the 2-1 win over Colchester.
But Rovers’ boss is wary about his small squad’s workload and has hinted at freshening up his side for the visit of high-flying Boro.
Saunders said: “The boys I had on the bench on Tuesday night weren’t one hundred percent fit.
“James Harper, Robbie Blake, Iain Hume and Shelton Martis are not one hundred percent, and James Husband’s only eighteen, so I didn’t feel I could stick them into a derby game like that.
“But this weekend I might have a re-think.
“It’s not fair on the lads to play three games in one week.
“I couldn’t afford to risk to Billy Paynter on Tuesday night either,” he added.
“Billy’s there or thereabouts with his fitness but I couldn’t take the risk of Chris Brown getting injured as well.
“If they’re both injured at the same time then we’ve got a problem.”
Rovers host Stevenage this weekend before long trips to Norwich next Wednesday and Leyton Orient the following Saturday, before Preston and Shrewsbury visit the Keepmoat Stadium during the first week of October.
Dave Syers suffered from a bout of sickness on the eve of the Colchester game and may step down this weekend, while Saunders will be keen not to over-work Keegan, Martin Woods and Chris Brown after their respective battles with injury.
Saunders, however, will be reluctant to change a back four who stood up to everything Sheffield United threw at them during Tuesday night’s stalemate at Bramall Lane.
Skipper Rob Jones produced another man of the match display and marshalled his side superbly in the face of an aerial bombardment from the Blades.
“It was a good point for us against the biggest club in the league,” said Saunders.
“They launched a lot of high balls at us in the second half and the lads at the back coped well.
“It was a real scrap.
“We’ve not had a game like that before where the ball is on top of you constantly.
“We didn’t have the personnel to deal with it last year.
“But bringing in the two big centre backs was my first port of call over the summer.”