DONCASTER Rovers’ boss Dean Saunders has urged the club’s out-of-contract players to be patient during the coming weeks.
Rovers have 12 players out of contract, including several brought in as part of the ‘Willie Mckay experiment.’
Although it is thought unlikely that any of the players brought in by McKay will still be a the club next season, Saunders made it clear yesterday that he would be interested in keeping some of the other players.
Although reluctant to name names, Saunders admitted that midfielder Simon Gillett was one of the players he was keen to keep.
“He’s got a great attitude, as have others, and he’s been an example to other players in that he has kept his head down and worked hard and always wanted to win,” he said. “He’s not the complete player but he’ll do for me.”
Saunders said that his hands were currently tied due to the fact that the contracts of the 12 contracted players, who include Brian Stock, James Coppinger and George Friend, coupled with keepers Neil Sullivan and Gary Woods, totalled more than a £1m over his budget for next season.
“I need to reduce that figure before I can start talking to those players I want to keep,” said Saunders.
The Welshman has compiled a list of players currently playing at various levels who he is interested in, but said that he was reluctant to lose key contracted players.
But with all contracted players set to suffer a substantial loss of earnings following relegation, he said he would find it difficult to try and keep players if other clubs came in for them offering more money during the summer.”
Saunders, meanwhile, admitted that he will not be sorry to see the end of the season.
“We’ve been in a relegation battle since I came here (in September) and the players who were here last season have been battling even longer,” he said.
“It has been wearing and it has been tough on everyone. But we kept ourselves in the relegation battle until the last four games.
“We were never in a situation were we could rest two or three players in midweek because we needed to try and win every game. I think everyone is worn out. I’m disappointed. I thought I could come in and keep the club in the league and we nearly did it.
“Some good things have happened and we’ve had some great performances. I think we’ve had eight wins and 11 draws - it’s not been about getting hammered every week and there have only been two or three games where we’ve been awful. The rest of the time we’ve mainly paid for missing chances - since Billy Sharp left that’s been the main problem.”