Doncaster Rovers set for derby

Trained: But George Friend is a wanted man.                   PICTURE: steve uttley
Trained: But George Friend is a wanted man. PICTURE: steve uttley

DONCASTER Rovers renew acquaintances with local rivals Rotherham United tonight at the Millers’ new home at the New York Stadium.

It will be the Millers’ second game at their new ground and Rovers’ boss Dean Saunders says he is looking forward to the game.

“It looks like a nice stadium and a nice pitch,” said the Welshman.

Tonight’s game is Rovers first outing against a Football League club during their pre-season campaign following three away games against non-League clubs, which has seen them win two and draw one.

“All the three games that we’ve played so far have been similar,” said Saunders. “They have all raised their game against us.

“I thought Bradford Park Avenue, who we drew 3-3 with on Saturday were a good team and I think they’ll do well in their league. They gave us a good test and it was a lot more difficult than the Grimsby game on the previous Tuesday.”

Saunders gave a few of his players a full game at the Horsfall Stadium and said he was likely to give more of his squad 90 minutes tonight as they face the first of four successive derby games.

“It’s going to be a tough game,” he said. “I’ve not really noticed who they’ve signed, but I know they have some decent players because their manager has had some money to spend and I expect them to do well in League Two next season.”

Whilst Millers’ boss Steve Evans will have a good idea of his likely starting line-up on the first day of the season, not so Saunders.

There was no news on the outcome of the weekend talks between Middlesbrough and centre-back George Friend, who trained with the Rovers’ squad yesterday, or whether the defender Saunders spoke to on Saturday morning had agreed to join Rovers.

Saunders is desperate to move at least a couple of his highest earners out to try and balance the books, though he makes no secret of the fact that Friend is one of the contracted players he would like to keep. He is getting concerned with the fact that his team-building plans remain in limbo less than three weeks to the start of the season.

“We are miles away from having the team I want out on the pitch,” he said. “The spine of the team is not there yet. I knew it was going to be a difficult summer. I was hoping to keep as many of the players as I could and add a few new players. As everyone knows I’ve got a budget to work with and I’ve got to get under it.”

Eric Randerson, the man behind the success of Doncaster Rovers Community Foundation is set to step down from his role as Chief Executive.

He will continue to work with the Foundation but will focus on key projects including ‘troubled families’ and ‘female participation’.

Rovers’ chief executive Gavin Baldwin said: “Eric is, and will continue to be, Mr Community for us. We estimate that, during his 27 years with the club, he has directly worked with, or facilitated over half a million participant visits.

“Eric developed the scheme from Football in the Community with three employees to Doncaster Rovers Foundation, a registered charity, which today has over 30 employees. He has overseen a number of ground breaking initiatives which have been highlighted as examples of best practice nationally including player community involvement and making Rovers one of the first clubs to have a stand alone Education Foundation.

“I can honestly say that working at the helm of Doncaster Rovers Foundation has been fantastic,” said Eric. “The Doncaster community has always embraced the work of the foundation.”