After news broke that Harry Chapman would be on the sidelines for a couple of months at least after needing surgery on his hamstring injury, we look at what the injury will mean to Rovers and what options Mowbray has.
On the back of a promotion season with Sheffield United, Chapman had a great summer as part of the England U20’s team that won the 2017 FIFA U20 World Cup tournament in South Korea.
The young star joined Rovers on the 4th August 2017, on a season-long loan deal from Championship side Middlesbrough. He went on to make his debut the day after, coming on as a substitute in Rovers’ 2-1 loss away to Southend United on the opening day.
Since then, Chapman has put in several great cameo appearances from the bench, and there have been calls from most Rovers fans to start the on-loan winger.
Chapman has made 15 appearances (including sub appearances) for Rovers, picking up 1 goal and gaining 4 assists. This means Chapman has been directly involved in 5 goals, leaving him joint 2nd in the charts (joint with Charlie Mulgrew, and Dominic Samuel top – 6)
But, it’s not just the goals he’s been involved that has attracted people to him. The meandering runs where he skips past people and leaves defenders in his path. His “nutmeg” away at Rochdale when he came off the bench.
So, what does the injury mean to Rovers?
Chapman offers Rovers pace when defenders are tired, the meandering runs as previously mentioned. You get excited when he gets ready to come on, as you can feel something special happening. When he’s warming up, the crowd starts to sing “There’s a starman, playing on the right…”.
If we didn’t have him at home to MK Dons, we wouldn’t have won 4-1. If we didn’t have him away at Shrewsbury, we wouldn’t have taken a point. I could go on.
Without the winger, Rovers will need to find another way to get past the defence when things aren’t going our way. I, with my hand on my heart, can say I don’t think there’s a team with more technically-gifted wingers than Rovers. However, one thing their players do have is pace. They may not be the most technically gifted, but they had that core pace to get in behind the defence. And, eventually, they do end up scoring.
It was referenced in our Talking points article from our draw with Fleetwood, that Rovers lack pace. Chapman was one of the only ones to offer us that core pace, and now it’s gone for a few months.
So, where does this leave us?
Mowbray will need to find another plan now. Does he use Craig Conway? Does he utilise Marcus Antonsson on the left? Does Rekeem Harper play on the left, like he did away to Scunthorpe? Will Mowbray use Sam Hart?
Craig Conway missed the first two games of the season and returned away to Bradford – coinciding with Rovers’ first win of the season. The winger would probably be Mowbray’s first choice, but Conway has had continuous injury problems and struggles to make it through 90 minutes.
Antonsson did look good on the left when he first played there but he has fallen away recently. Some games he looks really at home, but sometimes it looks like an unknown position to the on-loan Swede.
Harper didn’t have a great game on the left away to Scunthorpe. and hasn’t featured in the league for Rovers, with his chances limited to the Checkatrade Trophy – which Harper is likely to feature in on Tuesday night at Rochdale.
The final option would be Sam Hart. The young left-sided player joined on deadline day and came off the bench to play on the left side at home to Fleetwood. He did also play there for Port Vale when he was there last season on loan.
There are a few options for Mowbray, but which will he choose? Time will tell, but I can guarantee one thing that will happen – we will miss our star man.
We also asked our Twitter followers (@rovers_chat) about their thoughts on the injury and what Rovers go for now. Here’s a small collection of replies.
Thanks to everyone who contributed their thoughts, and thanks for reading.
Make sure you listen to the latest episode of our 1875 Podcast. We discuss the Wigan and Fleetwood games, injuries and much more! Click here to listen to Episode 8.