Deano fears Sharp

Big threat: Goal ace Billy Sharp is set to line up against old club Rovers.
Big threat: Goal ace Billy Sharp is set to line up against old club Rovers.

DEAN Saunders is praying Billy Sharp does not come back to haunt him and Doncaster Rovers tomorrow.

Sharp faces his former employers for the first time since leaving the South Yorkshire club during the January transfer window.

The prodigiously talented striker, who notched 26 goals in 41 matches for Rovers, joined Southampton for an undisclosed fee, a switch which reunited him with Nigel Adkins, who he worked with at Scunthorpe United.

Saunders told The Star: “It was a blow when we lost Billy.

“He was our top-scorer; that’s not ideal when you are trying to stay in the league.

“We had no option [but to sell him] because he had a clause in his contract before I came here. Billy did great for me and he got something like nine goals in 17 games.

“He went and let’s just hope he doesn’t do us any more damage.”

Since moving south, Sharp has struggled to hold down a regular first-team berth at the St Mary’s Stadium and is expected to be named on the substitutes bench as the league leaders target a fourth straight win in the Championship.

Saunders, whose side travelled to Southampton yesterday, is backing the team to pick up a positive result.

“Who would have thought Nottingham Forest would have won 7-3 at Leeds or West Ham would have drawn the last four games? This division is full of surprises,” he said.

“Southampton have done brilliantly this year and have kept a settled side. They have got some good players and it is a really big club who get big support.

“It will be a tough game but we have beaten them once so we know we are capable of doing it again.”

Rovers have extended goalkeeper Carl Ikeme’s loan deal until the end of the season. But Saunders has allowed James Chambers and James Baxendale to join Hereford United on a temporary basis, reuniting the duo with former Rovers assistant boss Richard O’Kelly, who is now the Bulls boss.