Should Rovers postpone their games during the international break?

With Rovers having no game this weekend due to international call-ups, @barryshoz82 discusses whether Rovers should call off games when the opportunity arises.

Games in League One come thick and fast. Everyone is used to the Tuesday/Saturday that happens in the Football League. It is relentless, and honestly exhausting.

But is it really that tiring to NOT play the game this weekend in what would have been a local derby at Blackpool?

This is the second weekend since the start of the 2017-18 season that Rovers have postponed a fixture – the first time being Fleetwood at home. All this as it is international week, and Rovers are lucky to still have three internationals on their books, therefore allowing them to postpone the game.

Now this is where I think Rovers are going wrong. This is the choice of the club to postpone the game against the Seasiders. The prominent word in that sentence is CHOICE. The three internationals, Northern Ireland’s centre midfielder Corry Evans, Scotland centre back Charlie Mulgrew and Canadian goalkeeper Jayson Leutwiler are missing due to the respective call ups. But does missing these three players mean that we would have a lesser chance of winning the game against Blackpool.?

Take Mulgrew to start. The leader, the captain, the free kick specialist. There is no denying that Rovers would miss him at centre half. But is he irreplaceable? He has seemed to have struggled in recent games – is this down to playing Saturday then Tuesday every week and it having a toll on his strained and fragile body? Or is it down to previously playing alongside Ward in a very slow cenrre half pairing, and he has lost a little confidence not having the reliable Lenihan beside him?

Since Paul Downing has come into the ream, he has looked a bit more like his old self. But would it be so bad if Rovers played without him? End of the day he will inevitably get injured at some point of the year for a sustained period, and Rovers will have to cope without him for probavly 15-20% of the games.

Mowbray did talk about this in the supporters’ consultation meeting, when asked by a fan:

“The main reason [why I’ve called them off] is I don’t want to play without Charlie [Mulgrew].” – Tony Mowbray at the supporters’ consultation meeting.

In regards to Evans, he was recently put on the bench against Gillingham, and Peter Whittingham replaced him. It wasn’t the ex Cardiff man’s best game in the middle of the park, but Rovers won without Evans.

I think Evans has made a good start to the season, but again there is the potential of his body breaking down as he has been unlucky with injuries in the past 18 months. Whittingham, Gladwin, even Willem Tomlinson can step up to the plate and partner Richie Smallwood in the heart of the midfield. Again, would Rovers miss him?

In regards to Leutwiler, the fans haven’t really seen him play. David Raya had an excellent game against Gillingham, but has made a number of costly mistakes this yesr, and the Canadian seemingly won’t be thrust into the first team. Mowbray is sticking to his guns with Raya, and hopefully more performances like against the Gills will repay this.

It makes me think why did Rovers sign a proven international goalkeeper as back up? Was this so they had the quota of three internationals so that they could call off the games on international weekends? I can’t really comment on how good a goalkeeper he is as he hasn’t played in the league as of yet.

Personally looking at the games postponed, Fleetwood at home and Blackpool away, this is depriving the fans of two new local derbies. Two decent sized Saturday crowds that will now be decimated by a Tuesday fixture. A brilliant away day for Rovers’ massive away crowd, and subsequent trade in all the boozing establishments in the Blackpool area.

All this because the team with probably the largest squad in the league can’t cope with losing two starting XI players, who at some point we will lose in the future and have to replace anyway. Rovers find themselves 10 points behind Shrewsbury.

The fans will be quick to point out that the Blues have a game in hand. Alex Ferguson always used to say that points on the board is better than games in hand as this creates pressure. These two games missed means that the Blues could find themselves 13 points behind Shrewsbury, even at this time of year and with two games in hand, that is a daunting figure. One that I think they could have done without.

I am not saying that the hierarchy wanted to hold on to the ‘Big club’ mentality by signing a Canadian goalkeeper so that we can and will call the games off, but it sure points that way. A first round draw in the FA Cup for the first time in 40 years will show the reality of where we are.

Rovers have a squad that should be able to cover for these players for ONE match. It would have given the fans the most anticipated and participated away game of the season, and if we would have won, put pressure on the runaway leaders.

Just a thought.

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