Doncaster injury crisis could give West Ham a boost
West Ham will look to bounce back from their opening-day defeat at home to Cardiff City when they travel to the Keepmoat Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
Only a week into the new season and already Doncaster Rovers are suffering an injury crisis.
With James O’Connor, James Chambers, Martin Woods, Brian Stock, Adam Lockwood, Shelton Martis and Mark Wilson all currently on the treatment table, Rovers were dealt a double blow at Brighton on Saturday.
Leading 1-0 thanks to Billy Sharp’s strike, all looked rosy for Doncaster until Sharp was stretchered off, fellow striker James Hayter hobbled off and Brighton won it in the 98th minute!
However, they did bounce back on Tuesday night with a thumping 3-0 home Carling Cup win over Tranmere.
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Sean O’Driscoll has been the Rovers boss for five years now, masterminding their rise to the heady heights of the Championship, but he is likely to be severely tested by this injury list.
While the Hammers have splashed some cash during the summer, O’Driscoll has contented himself with free transfers, the most notable of which is Giles Barnes, nephew of former West Ham star Bobby Barnes, who is looking to resurrect his career after a torrid time at West Brom.
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He has always been a tricky player, much as his uncle was, and that should make him the one to watch.
Chris Brown was another free capture from Preston and the former Norwich striker is likely to lead the line.
Rovers were fourth from bottom last season, finishing six points clear of the bottom three and that was largely due to home form that saw them collect 30 points, including a 3-1 victory over Premier League-bound Norwich City.
They did blow hot and cold though and a 6-0 home defeat by Ipswich Town merely emphasises that.
West Ham have not played Doncaster since 1958 when they won 2-1 at Belle Vue, though they did lose 3-0 to Rovers two years before that.
That epitomises the gulf that used to exist between these two teams. They have not met in over half a century and if West Ham go into the game thinking a league game against Rovers is beneath them, they are likely to come unstuck.
Possible team: Woods, Naylor, Spurr, Friend, Dumbuya, Gillett, Coppinger, Oster, Bennett, Barnes, Brown.
Prediction: Doncaster Rovers 0
West Ham United 2