DONCASTER Rovers’ hopes of pulling away from the Championship relegation zone have suffered a blow with the news that midfielder John Oster will be sidelined until the New Year.
One of the form players in the Doncaster side in the opening weeks of the season, Oster is scheduled to have an operation on his neck next week.
“It’s due to wear and tear; the bone has been touching the nerve due to bulging discs,” said manager Dean Saunders. “He’s been playing with it for several weeks but it has not been getting any better, It’s not a pleasant operation, though it’s quite straight-forward, but we need to get it sorted. John should be up and about after a fortnight but it will probably be a couple of months after that before he can play.”
Rovers will also lack the services of big striker Jon Parkin, who returned to Cardiff earlier this week at the end of his month’s loan spell.
Despite further media speculation linking him with loan players this week, Saunders says that he will have no new faces in the side to entertain Coventry tomorrow.
“I did have an Ivory Coast international in this week and he played in a practice game between ourselves but I didn’t feel that he was fit enough to slot into what we were doing,” he said. “He’d not played for a while and if players aren’t right for me I’ll not sign them.”
Saunders, meanwhile, will have to select from the players currently at his disposal for tomorrow’s game.
“I’ve given virtually everybody a chance in the six games and I’ve changed the side but I’m back now to what is the best way forward for us,” he said. “I knew what my best side was at 5pm last Saturday after the Portsmouth game. I may change it to suit the opposition in games; I was worried going into Saturday’s game that we were a bit small as a team, so sometimes you have to change it around because of who you are playing.
“I just hope to get it more right than wrong. We need to keep picking points up. We’ve managed seven since I’ve been here. We’ve had some dodgy results, even though we’ve played well in parts of the games - we need to find a killer instinct in both boxes.
“The football between the two boxes at Portsmouth was as good as it has been (since I came here). Unfortunately we conceded some soft goals, so we’ve got to do the basics right and that’s defending properly from throw-ins, goal-kicks, free-kicks and corners and also being good the other way around and wanting to win and making sure the person that you are playing against doesn’t play well.
“As I’ve said before there are two sides to football - when you’ve got the ball and when you haven’t - and we’ve got to get better when we haven’t got the ball. We’ve let too many goals in the last three games and we’ve only not scored in one (Leeds) since I’ve been here so really if we defend properly we should be winning more games. We’ve got to be able to shut the back door.
“Coventry are a good football team who are struggling a bit for results. We’ve got to be more determined than them and we’ve got to defend properly because going forward we are looking dangerous - although we aren’t converting all the chances we make.
“We are in a scrap - I knew that when I came. It’s going to be a long season but I’m determined to drive the players on. It’s got to come from me. I’ve got to force the issue and make sure we get the right starting line-up and the right frame of mind going into games.”