DONCASTER ROVERS: Jimmy O’Connor joins the Rams

Derby bound: Long-serving Jamdes O'Connor defender left Rovers for Pride Park yesterday and there are fears that he may not be the last big name to depart before  the big kick-off.                     Picture: liz mockler

Derby bound: Long-serving Jamdes O'Connor defender left Rovers for Pride Park yesterday and there are fears that he may not be the last big name to depart before the big kick-off. Picture: liz mockler

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RIGHT-back James O’Connor yesterday became the second high-profile defender to leave Doncaster Rovers in recent days, when he joined Championship club Derby County for an undisclosed sum.

Rovers boss Dean Saunders had warned that several long-serving players could be leaving before the weekend after Tuesday night’s friendly against Hull City.

“I would have preferred all this to have been sorted out in May,” he said.“Clubs have obviously been holding off so they don’t have to pay their wages during the summer. I thought that might happen.

“It’s not ideal and I’ll have two weeks then to organise our squad (if others leave), but I’ll get around it the best I can and I want to assure supporters we’ll have a team ready on the starting grid at Walsall.”

O’Connor’s departure would look to boost the prospects of former Cardiff City defender Paul Quinn winning himself a contract. Quinn has featured in the last two games, during which Rovers conceded just one goal, though he came off in the second half of the game against the Tigers,

“He’d only trained for three days and played two games and I thought he might get injured,” said Saunders. “I brought him off because I thought if his hamstring went then he’d be completely snookered.”

Amari Morgan-Smith, the other trialist at the club, also gave his hopes of winning himself a contract next season a boost after scoring the second of the club’s goals in their 3-1 win over the Tigers.

“He’d not played for a while before he came here and he’s found it hard training every day so I gave him a couple of days off before the Hull game and in addition to scoring a goal, he looked better,” said Saunders. “He certainly didn’t do himself any harm.

“He needs to get a bit of confidence back and he needs to prove himself in pre-season. But he wouldn’t cost much and the lad wants to do well and he’s got a chance.”

Saunders says he is pleased to be going into Saturday’s home game against Barnsley on the back of a win following two draws and a defeat.

“I was pleased with the win even though it was only pre-season and the way we did it was good,” he said. “I had a real go at them at half-time because I thought we were going to get beat by four or five at one stage. Their goal was typical of what we’ve been about and what I’m trying to change. But we dug in and the game turned.”