By Tony Leighton

He ended up on the losing side, but Doncaster Rovers left-back James Husband will remember Tuesday night's Johnstone's Paint Trophy tie against Crewe Alexandra for the rest of his life after being made captain of the team at the tender age of 18.

With regular skipper Rob Jones one of a dozen players ruled out through either injury or illness, manager Dean Saunders handed Husband the armband in what was only the young defender's 19th first-team start.

Following a Northern Section quarter-final that ended in a 5-3 penalty shoot-out win for Crewe after the tie had ended 1-1, Husband told football-league.co.uk: "Being made captain is a great honour and it was a fantastic experience.

"It's rare to find a captain so young and I have to thank the gaffer for giving me the chance. And although we lost I felt that we did really well with a patched-up side - we matched Crewe and had the chances to have maybe won the game."

Despite his youth, Husband handled the captaincy well and showed the growing maturity that has won him a regular place in the Rovers senior team after making his debut at the tail end of last season.

By that time he had already reportedly been watched by Premier League clubs as he impressed at academy level, and the award of a three-year contract in August illustrated the faith that manager Saunders has in the youngster.

Husband said: "I spoke to the gaffer in the summer and he said that if I worked hard I'd get my chance, and that's how it's worked out. I've been involved in pretty much every game and if I'd planned it then it couldn't have gone any better for me."

As he looks to progress his own career, Husband is focusing fully on helping Rovers regain the npower Championship place they lost through relegation at the end of last season - and they are currently well on course to achieve their aim.

In the last few days they have been knocked out of both the Johnstone's Paint Trophy and the FA Cup, but they have won their last four npower League 1 games to put themselves level on points with pace setters Tranmere Rovers at the top of the table.

Husband said: "We've been going really well in the league, and although it's obviously disappointing to lose cup games we can now concentrate totally on keeping our league form going through the rest of the season.

"There's a real self-belief throughout the squad that we can get ourselves promoted. The gaffer's done a great job in bringing together a set of lads who compete really well and we all think we can be there or thereabouts for one of the top two places."

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