Rovers held in opener

Denied: Rovers forward James Hayter tries to round Welfare goalkeeper Jamie Green.     Picture: Steve Taylor
Denied: Rovers forward James Hayter tries to round Welfare goalkeeper Jamie Green. Picture: Steve Taylor
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DONCASTER Rovers had to settle for a 1-1 draw in their opening pre-season friendly with local Northern Counties East League Premier Division side Armthorpe Welfare last night.

Trialist Martin Devaney broke the deadlock in the 86th minute but Welfare equalised two minutes later thanks to a header from Lee Pearson.

Injury-hit Rovers included a number of the trialists who have been training with the squad this week - some of whom caught manager Sean O’Driscoll’s eye.

But O’Driscoll admitted yesterday that he still doesn’t know what his budget is for the 2011-12 Championship campaign. He has drawn up several lists but claims that he doesn’t know which level of player he will be able to compete for.

The Doncaster boss is set to receive a cash boost from centre-back Matt Mills’ move to Leicester City from Reading for an undisclosed fee yesterday. Rovers are entitled to 20 per cent of the difference between what Reading, who are believed to have paid them around £1.7 million for Mills two years ago, bought him for and the selling price.

“Obviously somebody doesn’t just hand you a cheque for £1/2m,” said O’Driscoll. “But at least you can put it into your budget knowing that you will get the money at some point and that would make a big difference to the way that things stand at the moment. It is something that needs to happen rather than us liking it to happen. But we can’t wait and wait and we can’t spend money that we might not get.”

O’Driscoll is hoping to complete the signing of former Leeds United skipper Richard Naylor within the next 24 hours. The 34-year-old centre-back, released by the West Yorkshire club at the end of last season, has been training with the Rovers squad all week.

In addition to keeper Neil Sullivan, centre-back Sam Hird has also put pen to paper on a one-year deal.

“I promised Sam (when he signed) that we’d always offer him a contract and I didn’t want to go back on that,” said O’Driscoll. “It is probably not the contract that he wanted.”

Doncaster-born Hird was in and out of the team last season despite being the only defender to avoid serious injury.

Record signing Billy Sharp missed last night’s game as a ‘precautionary’ measure. The striker has worked throughout the close season on strengthening his groin and told The Star that he hopes to play in the club’s second warm-up game at Barrow tomorrow week.

See The Star tomorrow for report and reaction from last night’s match.