Dons squad down to the bare bones

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DONCASTER look like being down to the bare bones in Sunday’s final Northern Rail Cup Pool A game against Rochdale Hornets at Spotland.

“I will know better after tonight’s training session but at the moment the team looks like picking itself as only had 17 or players fit on Wednesday,” said Dons boss Tony Miller, who conceded defeat in the club’s bid to reach the knockout stages after Sunday’s 30-18 home defeat by Dewsbury.

Mick Butterfield (concussion), skipper Shaun Leaf (chest) are definitely out and stand-off Craig Fawcett, who pulled a thigh muscle in the warm-up on Sunday, is rated ‘very doubtful’ by Miller.

The likes of Jamie Bovill, Craig Robinson and Jack Ely all picked up knocks.

“Hopefully they’ll all be fit but with nothing being at stake as far as progressing in the competition, I won’t be taking any risks ahead of the start of the league campaign in a fortnight,” said Miller.

Miller, who welcomes back Ryan Steen and Kyle Sampson, is also hoping that Carl Hughes will make his first competitive appearance for the club following a close season foot injury.

Hornets’ trio John Cookson (shoulder), Wayne English (dead leg) and Dean Gorton (shin) are all expected to miss out on Sunday.

Hornets’ coach John Stankevitch said: “While we want to win the game this week, it’s about building momentum for the following week and I’m not going to take any unnecessary risks. If players aren’t 100 per cent, they probably won’t play.”

Jamie Peasnell is also out for four months after suffering a medial ligament injury just eight minutes into last week’s 50-10 defeat at Widnes.

Said former Dons’ coach Stankevitch: “I’m not sure what Doncaster will be like. Last year they started the season poorly, but they got really strong towards the back end of the season.”