Sharp set to face Cardiff

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DONCASTER Rovers boss Dean Saunders says record signing Billy Sharp is set to return to the side in tomorrow’s home game against Cardiff City - but Leicester City have still not given up hope that he could be in their squad for the game against Barnsley.

“Billy trained with us yesterday and I’ve told him that he will be involved on Saturday,” said Saunders.

“We are trying to come to some sort of agreement which would see him stay. He’s scored 10 goals in 16 games and he’s been getting a good supply; the players have been queuing to cross the ball to him.

“If he stays with us and does well I’m sure that there will be a queue of clubs wanting him at the end of the season and that’s what I’ve tried to tell him, but at the end of the day it’s down to Billy. “

The Foxes agreed to meet the asking price for Sharp last Friday - which resulted in the 25 year-old forward being withdrawn from the Rovers side to play Notts County in the FA Cup - and reiterated their interest yesterday afternoon.

City assistant boss Craig Shakespeare said the club were “in the driving seat” even though Premier League Fulham are also believed to be pursuing Sharp. He said that negotiations were continuing between the player, his representatives and football director Andrew Neville and added: “It wouldn’t surprise me to hear everything has been agreed this afternoon (Thursday) and again it wouldn’t surprise me to hear he is not here for tomorrow’s game.

“I think we are in the driving seat, even if there is Premier League involvement.

“He is our No 1 target, our No 1 priority and we have gone after him and a fee has been agreed.

“His goal ratio is second to none, he is a very good personality and the kind of team player we have earmarked.”

Saunders, meanwhile, was hoping to secure the deal which will keep El Hadji Diouf at the club until the end of next season, prior to tomorrow’s game.

Although Saunders still hasn’t given up hope of bringing West Ham United left-back Herita Ilunga back to the club he has admitted defeat in his efforts to get him back ahead of tomorrow’s game.

Habib Beye looks set to continue at left-back in what Saunders predicts will be a tough game.

“Cardiff are a very good team and we’ve got our hands full,” he said. “We are in good form at home in the league but the boys have got to show the same endeavour as they did against Barnsley. If they can do that I fancy us to give anyone a game.”

Having had time to reflect on last weekend’s 2-0 FA Cup defeat by Notts County, Saunders says: “I think maybe the Monday game against Barnsley may have taken its toll. The boys put so much effort into the game that their tank was a bit empty and maybe a notch off the pace.

“We’ve had a good weeks’ training but we haven’t done too much and that’s given the players a chance to recharge their batteries so they should be full of energy and ready to work. What I’m confident about is that we are going to turn up. I’ve got an idea of how we are going to play and how the players will perform.”