DONCASTER Rovers striker Billy Sharp looks to have played his last game for the struggling Championship club.
The 25-year-old, who was pulled out of Saturday’s FA Cup third round tie against Notts County, is poised to sign for big-spending Leicester City after the two clubs agreed on a fee, thought to be around £3m
“We’ve agreed a fee with Leicester but it’s down to Billy,” said Rovers’ boss Dean Saunders.
“It’s still not done and dusted and there’s a bit of work to be done yet.”
Sharp was badly missed as Rovers made an early exit from the competition, going down to a 2-0 defeat.
“I’m sure that he would have got on the end of something had he played,” said Saunders.
“I’m disappointed because I wanted us to do well in the FA Cup. I also wanted to keep the momentum going at home.
“We’d been unbeaten at home for quite a while and I wanted to take that momentum into the next game against Cardiff.”
The Welshman, who still hasn’t given up hope of left-back Herita Ilunga, who returned to West Ham United in midweek, coming back, was critical of the defending in the build-up to the Magpies first-half goal from a 38th minute free-kick.
But he argued that Rovers’ cause hadn’t been helped by enforced changes to the back-four.
“Habib Beye had to play left-back because we didn’t have Ilunga and Tommy Spurr is still injured and George Friend will be out for three months with a medial knee ligament injury,” he said. “So it wasn’t an ideal situation with the back-four.
“It was the first time they’d all played together and, of course, we’ve brought a new goalkeeper in. So things still aren’t settled and I shouldn’t be surprised when things like this happen to us, but I am.”
As well as being critical of County’s first half goal, Saunders said that he had been disappointed with the team’s overall performance in the opening 45 minutes.
“I can’t repeat what I said at half-time because there were too many of them not at the races,” he told The Star. “There were too many of them not playing like they’d played against Barnsley on Monday. We hadn’t won enough tackles, or enough headers, and the ball wasn’t sticking up front. We also didn’t get it wide quick enough and weren’t making angles for each other. We were just off the pace.
“We had chances in the second half and I still felt that we were in the game with half an hour to go and still thought that if we could get a goal we could go on and win it.
“But then Kyle (Bennett) gave a needless penalty away and that put us behind the eight ball then.
“They wanted it more and good luck to them. They’ve come away from home and got a great result against us.”
With Sharp not considered, and Saunders reluctant to start with El Hadji Diouf, who was still feeling his hamstring, the Doncaster boss gave a debut to new signing Mamadou Bagayoko.
“He also has a bit of a hamstring but I played him,” he said. “But he’d not played for six months and was obviously a yard off the pace, which was understandable.”