DONCASTER Rovers made a soggy start to pre-season training at their Cantley Park base as torrential rain hit the area.
The players, half-a-dozen or so who reported back earlier in the week, were given fitness tests as part of a relatively gentle introduction, but they were set for a much tougher day today according to manager Dean Saunders.
The players will had yesterday off before resuming their build-up tomorrow, Monday, ahead of Saturday’s first friendly at Cleethorpes Town.
Saunders is hoping to have several new players in by then. But with the 12 contracted players from last season alone taking Saunders well over his budget for next season, he admits he can’t move until his current wage bill is substantially reduced by the departure of several players.
“I’m sat there waiting for someone to ring,” he said. “Somebody has got to go and it will be first come, first served.I don’t want to lose some of them but I’ve got players lined up in case any of them left on Sunday.”
What is clear is that only the odd player, whose contract expired at the end of last season, is likely to still be at the club come the start of the 2012-13 campaign.
Whilst some fans would undoubtedly have liked to see more of last season’s squad retained, Saunders promises the Rovers’ faithful that he will put together a competitive side for the assault on League One.
“I’ll get it right; I’ve done it before,” he claims. “We’ve six weeks’ training before the start of the season and I don’t know what the team is going to be, which is unusual.
“But I know what sort of players I want.
“Players who want to get to the ball first, have a good attitude and want to train hard and want to do their best for the club. That is all I ask for.
“If players work hard and have a good attitude I’ll forgive them for all the (other) things they can’t do, We had too many footballers in the team last season for a relegation battle.
“We tried to do something (the so-called Willie Mckay experiment) and it looked like it didn’t work because we got relegated, but there was a time when things got better.
“When I first came here we hadn’t won for six months and I could see the damage it had done to some players.
“If you put Richie Wellens, Billy Sharpe and Matt Mills (who have all been sold) in our team now we’d have a great team, but since they’ve gone some of the players who looked really good are just average. Those three were making others look good.”