Rovers fill Billy’s shirt

It's a deal: El-Hadji Diouf with his Rovers shirt after signing watched by chief executive David Morris, inset.     Pictures: Steve uttley
It's a deal: El-Hadji Diouf with his Rovers shirt after signing watched by chief executive David Morris, inset. Pictures: Steve uttley
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El Hadji Diouf will line-up for Doncaster Rovers in tomorrow’s home game against Reading after finally putting pen to paper on a deal late yesterday afternoon.

The 31 year-old star, who first starting talking to the Championship club about a contract before Christmas, has committed himself to a six-month deal with Rovers also having an option for next season.

“I got a lot of offers to play away from here (England) but my kids go to school near here (Manchester),” he said. “I also enjoy it here,”

Diouf, whose original deal ran out after Tuesday’s 0-0 draw against Hull City at the KC Stadium, where he went close to grabbing a late winner, will wear the No 10 shirt worn by the recently departed Billy Sharp.

But the Senegal international, who has scored three goals in nine league appearances, made it clear that he wouldn’t be trying to step into Sharp’s boots.

“I’m different to Billy,” he told The Star. “Billy is a finisher and a goalscorer and whilst I can also score goals I am more of a creator of chances.”

Diouf, who can play on both flanks as well as down the middle, says that his role in the team won’t change following Sharp’s move to Southampton.

Although Diouf’s input has helped Rovers close the gap on the teams above the relegation zone during his time at the Keepmoat Stadium, they remain in the bottom three, but he remains confident that the club will hang on to their Championship status.

“I like a challenge and I want to do my best and help the football club,” he said. “The lads I’ve played with have been fantastic.

“If we continue to work like we did when winning against such teams as Leicester and Southampton and other big clubs then hopefully we’ll stay up.

“We’ve got a big game against Reading at the weekend but we’ve got a good home record and we’ll be looking to try and continue it.”

Football agent Willie Mckay, who first brought Diouf to Rovers, said he was delighted that he was staying on.

“He’s the best player in the Championship,” he told The Star after witnessing the signing. He confirmed that Habib Beye, who has also impressed whilst on loan from Aston Villa, was on the verge of signing a deal which would keep him at the club until the end of next season.

Villa are looking to get the veteran defender off their books before his contract runs out at the end of the season and are hoping to come to an agreement with him.

The Beye deal could go though tomorrow but there is no great urgency as he is currently suspended.

“Habib is happy here and wants to stay even though he’ll be on about a tenth of the money he was on at Villa,” said Rovers’ boss Dean Saunders.

Like McKay, he is delighted that Diouf has elected to stay on.

“He’s not an out-and-out goalscorer but you would love to think that being a former Premier League player that he’s going to score goals at this level,” Saunders said.

“He scored a great goal in the game at Bristol and it needed a tremendous late save by the Hull keeper to deny him a winner on Tuesday.”