Although it has come at the expense of an injured team-mate, Edinburgh City’s Gareth Rodger is thrilled to have been afforded some game time recently.
A ruptured Achilles tendon sustained by Kieran Stewart has forced manager James McDonaugh into a reshuffle these past few weeks as City, who were knocked off the perch of Ladbrokes League Two last weekend, aim to reignite their promotion push at Albion Rovers tomorrow.
Defender Rodger has been the beneficiary of Stewart’s misfortune and has started the club’s last three matches.
However, prior to the William Hill Scottish Cup victory over Civil Service Strollers three weeks ago, the 24-year-old hadn’t played a single minute since a 4-0 success over Albion Rovers at the beginning of August – the opening day of the season.
It had been a case of ‘as you were for McDonaugh’, who saw no reason to change a winning side that had racked up 12 consecutive victories in all competitions.
“I’m finally glad to have been given my chance,” said Rodger who hopes to line up alongside Conrad Balatoni in central defence at Cliftonhill tomorrow. “It was unfortunate that it came through an injury to Kieran but for me, if that’s what it’s taken to get my chance, then I have to take it.
“It’s been frustrating not getting any minutes but that’s the way it goes. I now have the chance to get some games over the next few weeks. It’s been a bit of reshuffling for the manager but we’ve had good options on the bench as it’s a strong squad.
“I suppose I’m kind of hindered with the position I play. During a game you tend not to make any substitutions to the defence unless there is an injury or change of shape. I’ve been training a lot harder and trying to keep myself as sharp as possible. There’s not really anything that comes close to playing games but I like to keep myself fit and I’ve felt good these last few weeks.
“That is the task that is awaits you when you haven’t been playing, getting used to things again. But I felt I played well against Stirling and even against Clyde last weekend; despite losing we defended well. We didn’t give them many chances, it just wasn’t our day.”
Rodger revealed that it was a somewhat strange feeling in the dressing room following John Rankin’s only goal of the game six days ago – the Citizens’ first defeat since the 1-0 loss at Elgin three months previous.
However, he says there has been a real determination this week to make amends, although he believes they are in for a tough game following the appointment this week of former Hibs midfielder Kevin Harper as Albion’s new manager.
“It was a strange feeling to have lost,” Rodger explained. “We’d won so many games in a row so it was disappointing. The kind of general feeling though was it wasn’t a disaster. There was always going to be a defeat around the corner so it’s now how we react. If we can get back to winning ways then it will show the strong mentality we have in the squad.
“We’ve never spoken about winning every game so we always knew we’d be beaten at some point.
“One defeat doesn’t mean we have to change a lot.
“We’re expecting another response from a side who may be bottom but have just appointed a new manager. They will be doing everything they can to get off on the right foot. It’s a tough match whoever we play.
“We just need to put last week’s defeat behind us and learn from our mistakes. We want to go on another winning run as soon as possible so there’s no better place to start tomorrow. There’s still a lot of football to be played.”