DONCASTER ROVERS: Rovers set to sign No 5

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DONCASTER Rovers’ boss Dean Saunders is hoping to make his fifth signing of the summer today.

Saunders spoke with a defender before the 3-3 friendly draw at Bradford Park Avenue on Saturday.

Reece Wabara tries to stop George Friend

Reece Wabara tries to stop George Friend

“He’s promised me an answer today,” said Saunders.

“We are obviously short of defenders and I thought about playing (No 2) Brian Carey again because I wanted Tommy (Spurr) to play left-back again.

“But he played centre-back and showed that he can do that. Good players can play anywhere.”

The Welshman, who has a couple of other irons in the fire, stepped up his efforts to strengthen his squad after becoming resigned to losing centre-back George Friend.

A long-time target for former Premier League club Middlesbrough, the Rovers skipper met up with Riverside Stadium officials on Saturday after the Championship club, who had had a bid rejected on Thursday, came back with an improved offer.

Although he expects Friend to leave the club before the start of the season, Saunders hinted that it might not be to Boro.

“I don’t think it is over and done with yet,” he said, “There are one or two other clubs sniffing around as well.

“Obviously I’d be disappointed if he goes because he is a good man; he’s got a great attitude and he’s a great athlete.

“But I am having to cut the budget and I have to cut our cloth accordingly,”

One man that he is determined to keep is 20 year-old Kyle Bennett,

Bennett was a target for Crawley, whose boss Sean O’Driscoll is now in charge at Nottingham Forest,

O’Driscoll, if he so wishes, now has the resources to make a more realistic offer for the man he signed 12 months ago,

“I’m trying to sort a new contract out for him,” said Saunders. “As people can see he’s got bags of ability although he is work in progress for me. The challenge is to keep him focused for 90 minutes on doing the simple things in football; he can do the hard things.

“He’s come back looking really good and he’s causing some damage. He helped make the three goals at Grimsby and he’s scored two today and was involved in the other.

“He is so quick and sharp that sometimes when he’s on form it is hard to get near him. I’ve told him that if he can get into double figures next season then forget the Championship he could finish up in the Premier League, so I’m trying to help him with that,”

Reflecting on Saturday’s game, Saunders said: “They raised their game and I thought they were a good team and they’ll do well in their league. They gave us a tougher test than Grimsby.

“We played a diamond formation in the first half and we tried to play total football with David Cotterill and Robbie Blake up front and Kyle just behind them, and the whole team out there were footballers.

“I thought some of the football was good considering it was hard to move the ball quickly.”