PREVIEW: Bristol Rovers v Exeter City
Danny Woodards insists he is happy to take on the role of Bristol Rovers’ utility man for the remainder of the season.
Woodards earned last season’s player of the year award with a series of impressive displays as first-choice right-back before his campaign was marred on the final day when he broke his leg at Dagenham & Redbridge.
The former Chelsea trainee did not return to action until the middle of November – but the improving form of replacement Michael Smith has meant Woodards has played most of his football across the midfield since.
Woodards looks set to anchor the midfield again when Rovers take on Exeter City at the Memorial Stadium tonight and he said: “I think I’m going to try for a record of playing in every position!
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“A few managers have used me as a utility player in my time and I think goalkeeper is the only position I haven’t tried yet.
“It sometimes helps when you are able to fill an unfamiliar position when it is needed. I don’t really mind where I play, I’m just happy to be out on the pitch making a contribution in a team that is winning games.”
Woodards was at the heart of Saturday’s 3-0 success over Burton Albion at the Memorial Stadium where he provided a shield in front of an increasingly consistent back four.
“Danny is a young man who has got a smile back on his face again,” said manager John Ward. “He’s had to deal with a lot of problems away from the pitch, but he has dealt with them in a very strong manner and is in good form for us again.
“He has no problems in slotting into that midfield area because he has played there before and I was not worried when I asked him to go and do that job for me on Saturday.
“He offers a bit of reinforcement in that midfield area after losing Seanan Clucas to injury because John-Joe (O’Toole) is more of a free spirit and likes to play further forward.
“I don’t think you’ll see too many glory things from Danny Woodards, but the role I am asking him to do is a very important one in the structure of any team.”
Woodards, meanwhile, faces former club Exeter City at a time when they are in good form themselves, and he said: “I know a couple of the lads from my time there.
“They are a decent team and I’m not surprised they are doing well because Paul Tisdale is a really good manager.
“Where we are now, however, we feel like we can take on anyone and give them a good game.
“The place has been buzzing for the last couple of months because winning games and keeping clean sheets tends to have that effect.
“We were working our socks off at the start of the season, but, you could just tell things weren’t quite clicking.
“We didn’t have that little spark you need, but it seems to be returning and the boys are all looking forward to the rest of the season.”