Rovers: Sullivan set to replace injured ex England keeper Kirkland at Doncaster

In the net: Neil Sullivan played well at Blackpool and has won the praise of Rovers boss Dean Saunders.
In the net: Neil Sullivan played well at Blackpool and has won the praise of Rovers boss Dean Saunders.
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FORMER England keeper Chris Kirkland looks to have played his last game for Doncaster Rovers.

The 30-year-old, who made his debut for the club in the 3-0 defeat at home to Leeds United last Friday, pulled out of Tuesday’s game at Blackpool with a back problem and has returned to Premier League Wigan Athletic for treatment.

“His back went into a spasm in his room after training on Tuesday,’’ said Rovers’ boss Dean Saunders.

“We knew that he had a back problem and that it was a risk when we signed him. It’s a shame because he’s obviously a good goalkeeper but he’s had the back problem for some time.

“I don’t think he’ll be coming back to Doncaster. He’s going to have some injections I think and hopefully get his back sorted out and we have to move on.”

Kirkland’s injury resulted in veteran Neil Sullivan, unlucky to be dropped following an impressive display last time out against Peterborough, being back on duty at Bloomfield Road.

Sullivan, who started the season as the club’s No 2 keeper, produced several outstanding saves and couldn’t be blamed for either of the Seasiders’ goals in their 2-1 win. That performance, and others since Saunders took charge, has resulted in the 41 year-old, who signed a one-year deal in the summer, being offered a one-year extension which he is expected to sign shortly.

“Neil is good professional and he knows what’s right and wrong,” said Saunders. “He understood the situation when we brought Chris in.”

Saunders had been expected to try and bring in another keeper on loan prior to tomorrow’s game at Portsmouth, but better than expected news concerning 20 year-old Gary Woods, who had been first choice keeper earlier in the season, has resulted in him holding fire on making a decision until early next week.

Woods, who picked up an upper-body injury in training on Sunday, has been told that he could be back playing within two weeks.

Big striker Jon Parkin is set to return to the Rovers’ squad at Fratton Park after missing the Blackpool game with a virus after resuming training yesterday.

Tomorrow’s game is the last in his initial month’s loan but Saunders is hoping to extend it before the weekend.

“I think he likes it here. He’s different to what we’ve got and we don’t want to leave ourselves short,” he said.

Ryan Mason (stomach bug) again missed training yesterday and looks set to sit another game out.