When asked if the fans can act as a twelfth man, the Welshman responded, “Absolutely. The fans definitely won us the game against York when it went to penalties and we had to shoot in front of our home end. The fans put pressure on the opposition penalty takers.”
Rovers got their season underway in fine style by defeating Walsall 3-0 at the Banks’s Stadium on Saturday thanks to goals from Chris Brown, David Cotterill and Kyle Bennett.
“It didn’t matter how we played, as long as we got the three points. I think if you’re sitting there with no points and you don’t get any on Tuesday, you’re worrying about the next points on the board. But we got them and scored some great goals along the way,” he said.
“It’s the first chance I've had to build my own team and we’re only going to get better as we go along. For us to win 3-0 the way we did, I was surprised to be honest; I thought we were in for a tough game and we played it right at the end of the day. We scored some of the best goals I’ve seen while at the club.”
Saunders stated that no further progress had been made between the club and Hull City over the future of star midfielder James Coppinger following the Tigers’ initial enquiry, and that rumours of Paul McKenna coming the opposite way along the M62 may be wide of the mark: “McKenna played for Hull on Saturday and they had a good win; Steve Bruce has rung up and asked about Copps but that’s it really. Whether we’d be willing to take someone in exchange we’d have to look at that situation but we haven’t got that far yet.”
Saunders was once again unable to fill the seven available spots on the substitute’s bench with Coppinger named as one of just five substitutes.
“We’re not right yet, we had five on the bench on Saturday and we might lose a few more before the window shuts. I’ve got more to add to the side and cover all angles so when we do get injuries and suspensions we can go in to big games with an experienced team,” he said.
“There’s a few good teams in this league with good players but there’s a long way to go yet. There were a few things I wasn’t happy with, obviously they haven’t played together and there were little technical things like the two centre halves being dragged too far apart. We’ve just got to keep getting results while I iron out all the little things.”
Expanding the squad with players such as Karl Hawley – who continues to train with the club - has not materialised as yet due to Saunders being ‘financially stuck’, while flying winger Bennett – who has a year left on his contract – will not be allowed to leave the club for anything other than a ‘massive amount of money’.
Former captain Adam Lockwood – who won the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy and the League 1 play off final in his time with Rovers – returns to the Keepmoat Stadium for the first time and should feature in a Bury side that drew 0-0 at home to Brentford on the opening day.
Saunders, who has no fresh injury concerns, will look at the possibility of including Neil Sullivan in the matchday squad for the first time since recovering from a thumb injury, despite Gary Woods being declared as ‘number one choice.’