NEW recruit Pascal Chimbonda may have to wait to make his Doncaster Rovers debut.
Speaking to The Star last night, manager Dean Saunders said the French defender is short of match fitness and is not guaranteed to feature in the Sky-televised showdown with Leeds United.
Chimbonda, who has signed a short-term contract at the Keepmoat Stadium, has missed a number a training sessions for personal reasons.
Saunders said: “It is something to do with his family and I knew about it before I signed him.”
But former Wrexham chief Saunders has hinted his second signing Herita Ilunga could be handed a start for the first time when Rovers host their West Yorkshire counterparts on Friday night, kick-off 7.45pm. The Congo international was snapped up by Saunders on a three-month loan deal from Championship rivals West Ham last week.
“Pascal (Chimbonda) has been training on his own which is a bit different to what we have been doing as a group but Herita (Ilunga) is looking good and he will be ready for the game,” said the Rovers chief.
“We will have to see how Pascal goes on in the week but hopefully he will be involved. I will make that decision later in the week.
“Pascal is probably a little behind Herita at the moment but we will assess him over the next three to four days.”
Since arriving at the club, Saunders has captured two defenders in Chimbonda and Ilunga but it is no secret he is still scouring the transfer market looking to bolster his injury-hit squad. Chris Kirkland is the latest high profile player to be linked with a loan switch to Rovers.
Former Liverpool and West Brom goalkeeper Kirkland has fallen down in the pecking order at Wigan Athletic and it is thought the Latics would allow him to depart the DW Stadium on a temporary basis.
But, refusing to be drawn on the Kirkland speculation, Saunders said: “We are trying to bring people in. We are working on it. I’m making lots of phone calls.
“I haven’t got a lot of money to spend and we can’t throw money around like it is going out of fashion.
“Some of the names who have been thrown around have been ridiculous. A lot of the names who have been thrown at me are not true.
“We are in a situation where we need points. We have got to fight. This is a really good football club and we have got to avoid being relegated and I have got to do something about it in the short term.
“We need a lift and I have got to use all my contacts to try and get the best players I can in.”
Saunders insists no new arrivals are imminent but he stressed: “I might get a phone call tonight or later. I’m trying to bring good players into the club without hardly spending any money.”
Saunders, who has recorded two wins and a draw from his opening three matches at the helm, has been delighted by the application and effort the players have shown in training during the two-week international break.
“I’m really pleased and I’ve just got to keep raising the bar,” he said. “You are only as strong as your weakest link and if you’ve got players on the training pitch who aren’t putting everything into it, the rest won’t. They get fed up. It works the other way as well. If you’ve got four to five out there who are putting maximum effort in, they drag another four or five along with them and then there is no way out for the ones who are thinking they aren’t going to try.
“I want to get a culture in the club that everybody trains properly and works their socks off. Everything I do on the training ground is related to what we do on Saturdays and it requires full concentration and effort. I never go out there and have an easy session. Providing the players do that, it makes training a lot more enjoyable for everybody concerned.”