DONCASTER Rovers’ boss Dean Saunders remains hopeful that striker Billy Sharp will see the season out with the club unless a Premier League side comes in for him this month.
“I think Billy will be staying with us until the end of the season - at least I am hoping he will,” said Saunders. “He’s not going to any of the clubs who have come in for him at the moment.
“Without actually nailing it down I think he has indicated that he’d like to stay - although if someone like Manchester United came in for him in the next week or so then I’m sure he’d change his mind - so you can never count your chickens.
“But hopefully he will stay with us and if he can win us six or seven games it would be worth all the money in the world.”
Rovers offered Sharp a club-record deal in midweek in a bid to keep him.
“I’m not sure about him signing a new contract, but I think he wants to stay and help us get out of the trouble we are in,” said Saunders. “If he could score another 10 goals between now and the end of the season, I’d take that.
“If he did stay then hopefully he would improve his game while he was here by keep working on different things, and if he can continue to get goals then at the end of the season there might be some Premier League clubs coming in for him.
“He might have a few more tools in his bag by then and there are things that I can perhaps pass on to him that I learnt.”
Saunders is still optimistic that the club will also sign El Hadji Diouf on an 18-month contract.
The Rovers’ boss had hoped to complete the deal ahead of Saturday’s 0-0 draw against Cardiff: “We are trying to get it sorted,” he said, hinting that the delay was down to financial factors.
Rovers now face back-to-back away games but will travel down to Ashton Gate on Saturday to take on fellow strugglers Bristol City in good heart after another impressive home display against the third-placed Bluebirds.
“I think Saturday’s performance is probably the best we’ve played since I’ve been here,” said Saunders.
“We are doing well and we’ve got 22 points from the 19 games I’ve been in charge and we should have had two more from today’s game.
“Most people will probably think it was a good result against Cardiff; I don’t because I fully expected us to win.”
Commenting on the team’s improved results since he replaced Sean O’Driscoll, Saunders said: “I’m not asking them to do anything they haven’t done since they were kids.
“It is just hard work; playing the right ball at the right time, being organised and not letting their mates down by letting the opposition off the hook.”
He added: “I had to shuffle the back-four again today and Tommy Spurr, who hasn’t had a proper training session since having had two operations, came in and he’s looked like Roberto Carlos.”