DONCASTER Rovers’ supporters will have breathed a collective sigh of relief on Thursday when it was announced that James Coppinger had signed an extension to his contract.
The 30-year-old, who only signed a new deal last season which took him to the end of the 2012-13 campaign, put pen to paper on a 12-month extension.
“It is something that has been on-going during the summer and I’m delighted to have signed the deal; it’s put my mind at rest,” he said.
The news of Coppinger signing a new deal is likely to disappoint Championship rivals Ipswich Town, who made a £300,000 bid for him as part of a £2.6 million package involving striker Billy Sharp within weeks of last season ending.
The Tractor Boys are believed to have still been interested in Rovers’ longest serving player even though he rejected the chance to move to Portman Road.
“Chairman John Ryan told me of Ipswich’s offer and I spoke to them, but he made it clear that he didn’t want me to leave,” said Coppinger, who had arguably his best season at the club last term. “It was a big decision for me to make.
“Having been here as long as I have, and having my wife work in the town and the kids settled at school, there was a lot to take into consideration.
“I also needed to know that the club still had ambitions to move forward - that was very important to me - and the fact that the manager was still here helped convince me.
“It is obviously a boost that Billy stayed as is the fact that the majority of the squad who have been here for the last three years are still here.
“We’ve also brought in some good players during the summer and I’ve been impressed by them in pre-season.
“When you add the five or six players who are currently out injured, we’ve got a strong squad when everyone is fit.
“It is of paramount importance that we stay in the Championship and to do that the club needs the strongest squad it can afford.”
Coppinger can expect a warm reception from Rovers’ fans travelling up to Brunton Park today for this afternoon’s friendly against Carlisle in a match which also doubles as a testimonial for defender Sean McDaid.
McDaid played for both clubs before being forced to retire with a serious knee injury earlier this year.
Coppinger said: “We were all sorry to learn that Sean had had to retire. He’s a fantastic lad and we obviously wish him all the best for the future.
“Hopefully there will be a decent crowd and that it will be a good game to both be involved in and to watch.”