Doncaster Rovers’ players have let the club’s fans down by sliding into League Two, James Coppinger has admitted.
Rovers’ third relegation in five seasons will be mathematically confirmed on Sunday when they complete an abject campaign at home to Burton Albion.
For long-serving skipper Coppinger - who has committed his future to Doncaster - next season will mark unchartered territory as he prepares to represent Rovers in the fourth tier for the first time during 12 years at the club.
And he admits the drop from Championship to League Two in the space of two years is hard to stomach.
“It’s a shock for me, it’s a shock for everyone involved and it’s a shock for the fans,” said the 35-year-old.
“You feel like, as a player, that you’ve let people down. You’ve let the manager down who, for me, has been magnificent since he’s come in. As captain and part of the team I feel we’ve let him down and we have let the fans down.
“And that’s the most frustrating part because we have got a good group of players that have worked tirelessly on the training pitch to put this right and it hasn’t worked.
“But we can only look forward now, and look ahead to next season. I know that sounds a bit cliched but it’s the only thing you can do.”
Asked about his own future, Coppinger said: “I’ll definitely be involved, I’m contracted for next season.
“It’s a challenge for me and every single player to put what’s happened right next season.
“I won’t be shirking that challenge and I know the manager won’t be.
“Doncaster’s a fantastic club and a club that I’ve been part of for 12 years. That’s not something that’s going to change overnight.
“We’re going to bounce back one hundred per cent and I’m definitely going to be part of that.”