Hayter hopes for birthday goal return

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DONCASTER Rovers star James Hayter has hit double figures for the first time at Championship level this season.

“I don’t set myself a target as such,” said Hayter who will celebrate his 32nd birthday tomorrow.

“But I’ve got ten goals, one more than last season, and that is always my first aim.

“I’m just looking to push on and hopefully score a few more in the remaining games.”

Had it not been for two lengthy lay-offs due to an early-season hamstring injury and a more recent ankle complaint, Hayter’s ten-goal tally would most likely have been much closer to Billy Sharp’s total of 16.

Although Sharp, currently recovering from a hernia operation, will not play again this season, Hayter says the former Sheffield United man remains favourite to finish the club’s top scorer for the second successive year.

“It will be a tough ask to score six in our last seven games,” he said.

“But you never know - I scored five goals in five games in the first half of the season.”

That was Hayter’s career- best sequence of scoring in successive games and saw him named as the Championship’s Player of the Month for November.

With Rovers having gone three games without a goal, and still not mathematically safe from relegation, they would welcome another scoring flurry by the man whose Wembley goal secured the club their current Championship status three years ago.

Hayter had a quiet game in last weekend’s 1-0 defeat at Bristol City with few chances coming his way in the club’s first game after the international break.

The club took the opportunity during the first week of the break to give Hayter an injection in the ankle which had been troubling him a bit since his return to action.

Hayter hopes to be back firing on all cylinders in tomorrow’s game against third-placed Cardiff, in what is a very important game for both sides - though for different reasons.

“It is going to be a tough game,” he said. “They have got a lot of good forwards including Jay Emmanuel-Thomas, who did very well for us last season when he was on loan from Arsenal.

“He’s a big powerful lad, but he’s also skilful on the ball as well.

“He’ll definitely one that we’ll have to look out for.

“But they’ve also got the likes of Craig Bellamy and Jay Bothroyd.

“With that sort of firepower they are going to be a test for anyone.

But we are at home and we’ll be looking to try and get something out of the game.”