Friend plays down long-ball tag

Rovers defender praises the impact of new boss Saunders

George Friend (R): Defender does not feel Doncaster are now a long-ball team under Dean Saunders

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Doncaster Rovers defender George Friend insists that the arrival of Dean Saunders as manager has not turned the team into long-ball merchants.

Saunders' predecessor Sean O'Driscoll was renowned for employing a passing brand of football, which helped the South Yorkshire outfit climb into the Championship three years ago.

Former Wales international striker Saunders took over at the Keepmoat Stadium last month and added a more direct element, but Friend is adamant Rovers are by no means a long-ball side.

"A lot of people have said that we are changing to a long-ball team, but I've been told that the manager's former club Wrexham pass the ball very well and I'm sure that he will get us doing that too," Friend told skysports.com.

"I don't think that he wants to totally abolish our passing style because he knows that we've got the players for that, but he wants to add a bit more grit and steel to the team.

Real motivator

"If we can get a good mix of the two then hopefully it will enhance our chances of winning games.

"He is a real motivator that wants to put his own stamp on the club and he has brought in some very experienced players as well, so hopefully we can start finding the form we generated when he first came in."

Rovers face fellow strugglers Coventry this weekend, but the former Wolves defender insists that Saturday's clash is far from being the proverbial six-pointer.

Friend added: "Every game in the Championship is a big game, but it is a home game for us, which makes it even more important for us.

"It will be nice to get back to the Keepmoat because we've had two on the trot away from home, so hopefully we can mark our return with a win."