DESPITE weeks of speculation regarding his future, Billy Sharp looks set to start the season with Doncaster Rovers.
Championship rivals Ipswich Town and Southampton had bids for the 25 year-old striker turned down before Saints came back with an improved offer of £3.25m.
The likelihood is that Rovers would have accepted the offer, which would have almost doubled the club-record fee paid out by Reading for defender Matt Mills two years ago, had Sharp wanted to go.
“Southampton are a big club and had the deal been right then I would have negotiated with them but it wasn’t,” he told The Star.
“I knew Southampton manager Nigel Adkins, who I had played under at Scunthorpe.
“That was one of the positive aspects of their approach, but like I say the deal wasn’t right.”
There had been speculation that Sheffield-based Sharp wasn’t keen on moving to Hampshire, but he denied that was a factor.
“It wasn’t anything to do with being a Sheffield lad and not wanting to move out of the area,” he said.
“I’ve been lucky in the two moves I’ve made (Scunthorpe and Doncaster) that I’ve not had to move, but it wouldn’t be a problem if I did have to in the future.”
The club’s top scorer for the last two seasons, Sharp makes no secret of the fact that he entertains ambitions to play in the top flight.
He has seen the likes of Steve Morison (Millwall) and Danny Graham (Watford) secure summer moves to Premier League clubs and would like to follow them at some stage.
“It’s not a case of me thinking that I am as good as them,” he said. “I just think myself that one day I will be good enough to play there.
“In the meantime I’ve got two years left on my contract and I’ll be working as hard as I can during that time to both help the club and to try and get to the Premier League.
“I’m not in any rush to go and while ever I’m here I’ll be giving 110 per cent to the club. I’ve been working hard on my fitness during the summer and I’ll be ready to go when the season starts.”
Sharp missed out on the first pre-season game against Armthorpe last Thursday as a ‘precautionary measure’ but is expected to play some part in Saturday’s warm up at Barrow.
Like the rest of his team-mates, Sharp is aware that Rovers are the bookies’ favourites to be relegated, but it is not something he set to lose sleep over.
“We’ve got to be relegation favourites after finishing fourth bottom last season,” he reasoned.
“The three relegated teams are expected to do well and the three teams who have come up are supposedly going to be strong. But we are not going to go down. We’ve got to try and get off to a good start like we did last season and then hopefully build on that.”