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'We can take out top guns'

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Doncaster Rovers' Paul Keegan.

Doncaster Rovers' Paul Keegan.

Doncaster Rovers' Paul Keegan.

IRISH midfielder Paul Keegan believes that his unfashionable Doncaster Rovers side have the ability to make a mockery of the inflated pay scales in the Championship.

The 29-year-old, signed from Bohemians in 2010, underlined his value to Doncaster when he returned to the side after almost a three-month absence due to injury and helped Paul Dickov's side to a 3-0 win over a much-fancied Wigan Athletic on Saturday.

Keegan smiles at the idea of him being a lucky omen as his return to fitness coincided with the team's first win in 10 games, but joking aside, the defeat of Wigan was an important one.

Doncaster, promoted from League One at the end of last season, remain in the relegation zone but with that win, clubs like Charlton, Millwall and Sheffield Wednesday are now only two points ahead of them, while the big-spending Bolton are within reach.

Outfits such as Bolton, Blackburn and QPR operate off budgets that dwarf the finances available to someone like Doncaster – QPR have paid Brazilian 'keeper Julio Cesar around £2million in wages so far this season and he's played just once – so Keegan is happy to scrap and fight for points against the big boys.

"It's unreal, the budgets that some clubs have and yet we can go and beat them," says Keegan.

"It's one of the good things about football that once the whistle blows it's just 11 versus 11 and the value that a player has doesn't always show.

"Just because one player is on a hundred grand a week and his opponent earns two grand a week, it's the quality of the player that comes through.

"We can beat the big teams, that's not just talk as we have already beaten some of the top sides in the division, our problem is losing to the teams around us. I do feel we can stay up as we have the players to do it," says the Portmarnock man.

"We beat Blackburn early on in the season, we beat Wigan just last week, we beat QPR and Leicester, we can beat good teams.

"It is hard for a club like us to compete with those clubs.

"Apart from maybe Yeovil, we have the smallest budget in the league. It is mad to think that our budget is as small as it is and yet you have clubs paying players £50,000 a week.

"The Championship is a very tough league and for us to stay up would be a huge achievement."

For now, former Drogheda United man Keegan is just glad to be fit again and in the Doncaster side.

"The season started well but I tore my hamstring back in November and I was out for 11 weeks, it was hard being out for that long and I was delighted to see the team win in my first game back," he says.

CHARM

"I don't think it's down to me being a good luck charm, we had a few players out through injury but we have them back fit now and we are feeling good about the run of games ahead of us.

"Winning last weekend was a big deal for us, we have been doing okay in the last few games but we just seem to get bullied out of games and we end up losing."

For Keegan and Doncaster, the future is uncertain, with constant talk in the background of a takeover by an Irish consortium, though there is already some Irish interest as the club chairman recently asked Keegan if he had any explanation for a small surge in Irish support for Rovers, but the immediate aim is to stay up.

"We have a chance now," he says. "We had a bad run there, one point from eight games, but I think the squad is stronger now and if we can get a striker in before the window closes, we will be okay.

"I am out of contract at the end of this season, I think I have done well here since I came to Bohs and I'd like to stay on and be part of this club in the Championship next season."


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