Doncaster Rovers will be a little ring rusty as they step into the New Year with a first npower Championship match in over a fortnight after having had weather-enforced postponements to both of their Christmas week fixtures.
Rovers entertain Scunthorpe United on New Year's Day, four days after the Iron's 2-0 win at Burnley but 15 days after their own 2-1 stoppage time victory over Middlesbrough as they returned to form following two successive defeats - the second of them a 5-1 trouncing at Leicester City.
Injuries and illness in the playing squad have piled further frustration on to Manager Sean O'Driscoll, but he is taking it all calmly in his stride as he looks ahead to facing Scunthorpe on Saturday, Sheffield United on Monday and then his home town team Wolverhampton Wanderers in Round Three of the FA Cup on Saturday week.
O'Driscoll, pragmatism personified, told football-league.co.uk: "Frustration is part and parcel of being involved in football.
"For instance, we played very well in the opening 45 minutes at Leicester but then we let a refereeing decision affect us on the stroke of half-time to such an extent that we became a different team after the break.
"Middlesbrough then came to the Keepmoat Stadium after an excellent win against Cardiff and we were forced to play four centre halves in our back four due to injuries, which again was frustrating, but our attitude throughout the game was first class.
"We then had a virus sweep the camp in the lead up to the Boxing Day fixture at Derby, which was very frustrating from a preparation point of view. But we trained on the morning of the game and we were looking forward it. So there was genuine disappointment, rather than frustration, when the match was postponed.
"Our home game against Ipswich was then postponed, but we've been working hard on the training ground and we're looking forward to the Scunthorpe game and then our local derby at Bramall Lane two days later. It would certainly be nice to get back to some sort of normality before we turn our attentions to the FA Cup and Wolves."
Doncaster will enter 2011 placed 14th in the table, in the middle of a pack of 10 clubs within four points of each other and with games in hand on all but two teams in the whole of the Championship.
After finishing 12th last term - having been eighth with just six games remaining - and having a decent if not spectacular set of results to their name in the season so far, O'Driscoll's team are regarded as dark horses in the race for a place in the Play-Offs.
The Manager himself may agree with that assessment but, as ever, pragmatism rules. "We would obviously like to be able to make a challenge," he said, "but I'm a big believer in the processes being more important than the outcome.
"If you wrote down the things you need to do to avoid relegation they would be exactly the same processes that would be paramount for a Play-Off place or automatic promotion. It's easy to set outcomes, but talk is cheap in football and it's what you actually do that will determine how successful you can be.
"So it's how well we are able to do certain things, and our motivation to do them, that will determine what we can achieve."
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