DONCASTER Rovers skipper Brian Stock says there would be no hard feelings were star striker Billy Sharp to leave the club this month.
“He would obviously be a massive loss for the team but he would go with our best wishes,” said the midfielder. “He deserves his chance to play at a higher level and while he’s been here he’s scored goals for us and has been a great servant for the club.”
Rovers, who failed to pick up a win in six games when Sharp was out injured at the start of the season, lost at home for the first time in five games when the 25 year-old was left out of the side to play Notts County in Saturday’s FA Cup third round tie after Leicester were given permission to speak to him after meeting the asking price.
“I think we missed him on Saturday,” said Stock. “We put a lot of crosses into the box and a lot of shots and I think had Billy played he would have got on the end of a couple because that’s what you get when you pay over a £1m for a player.”
But Stock didn’t try and blame Sharp’s absence for the result.
“The energy we showed against Barnsley wasn’t evident on Saturday, but sometimes you’ve got to give the other side credit.” he said. “Notts County manager Martin Allen has a lot of passion and that rubs off on to his players and they were well organised.
“We were disappointed to go out because we wanted to do well but it wasn’t to be. The manager was definitely disappointed and he said one or two words after the game.
“At the end of the day, we are struggling in the league and may be going out of the cup will give us more of a focus to try and remain in the Championship. We have to move on.
“If we start to feel sorry for ourselves we are going to end up getting beaten this weekend, so we have to pick ourselves up.
“Cardiff are a good side and are up there on merit. It is going to be a tough game, but we have beaten some good sides at home, such as Southampton and Leicester, and we’ll be looking to get back to winning ways.”
Despite the fact that Rovers are second bottom in the Championship, and out of the FA Cup, Stock says that it is not all doom and gloom.
“We’ve had a lot of players out but most of the long-term injured players are either back or not far off resuming training,” he said.
Saturday’s game saw the return to action of midfielders Martin Woods, out for almost a year, and John Oster, who had missed more than two months following a neck operation.
“They have both done well since returning to training and they are both quality players,” said Stock. “But Simon Gillett (who was an unused substitute on Saturday after reporting a tight hamstring) has played in every league game this season and done exceptionally well and he’ll be looking to play on Saturday.
“We’ll have a massive squad when everybody is fit and that can only be good for the club because we have got to keep on our toes otherwise we’ll find ourselves out of the team.”