DONCASTER ROVERS: Rovers on the brink

That sinking feeling: Sam Hird, Giles Barnes and James Coppinger look dejected after seeing Burney score the winner from the penalty spot.                   Picture: Steve taylor
That sinking feeling: Sam Hird, Giles Barnes and James Coppinger look dejected after seeing Burney score the winner from the penalty spot. Picture: Steve taylor
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A DEFIANT Dean Saunders has vowed he won’t walk away from Doncaster Rovers despite the club teetering on the brink of relegation.

The Keepmoat outfit, who are bottom of the Championship, edged closer to the drop after suffering a 2-1 defeat at home to Burnley yesterday.

With Bristol City defeating Coventry City, Rovers are now 11 points shy of safety with just four matches left.

Saunders, who has overseen just seven wins in 35 league matches, said: “I have got a three-year contract. I have not put one building brick in place yet to build my own team. Everything that has been done has been short-term. It was going to be a tough job anyway and we have not won as many games as I would have liked but I have to work out what to do next season. I have got a plan in my head and I have spoken to the chairman and I have got to build my own team.

“Sometimes if you have to take a step back to go forward, that’s what you have to do. Unless I get my hands tied behind my back where I can’t do what I want to do, I will be ready and looking forward to pre-season and getting a grip of the players.

“I know what is needed with the team. I know what our faults are. If you haven’t got any money, it can take three years. If you have, it can take less time.”

Saunders made nine alterations from the team who were well beaten at Leicester City. Frederic Piquionne, El Hadji Diouf and Pascal Chimbonda all had hamstring niggles while Habib Beye missed out because of his long-standing ankle knock. On loan Wolves goalkeeper Carl Ikeme tore a ligament in his toe, meaning Gary Woods deputised.

Saunders says the fixture pile-up, which saw Rovers have to play nine times in March, has taken its toll on the squad.

“The whole team is injured,” said the Welshman, who started goal-scorer Chris Brown despite the striker failing a fitness test. “I don’t know how it is fair we can have a day to recover and Burnley had two. I don’t think that’s fair. The schedule has killed us with the injuries.

“We have had Saturday, Tuesday, Friday and playing Leicester has finished a few of them off. It is an accumulation of being tired on top of tired and having to scrap for points.

“It sounds like I am making excuses but I don’t think the schedule is fair to the supporters. I don’t know how much it cost to get in today but when you bring your kids in to come and watch, they want to see Piquionne and Diouf. They want to see them fresh, not jaded or injured. It is not fair on anybody.”

Saunders, who also lost Brian Stock in the first-half to a groin injury, added: “We are not going to give up. We don’t need snookers but we are not far off.

“We have got four games left and we still have a slight chance of staying in the Championship. There is always a chance and we have to keep going. Stranger things have happened.”