Ilunga leaves Rovers and Sharp set to follow

Going . . . gone: Billy Sharp and Herita Ilunga
Going . . . gone: Billy Sharp and Herita Ilunga

HERITA Ilunga, the first of the players to join Doncaster Rovers on a short-term contract in the hope that he would attract interest from other clubs from which Rovers would have cashed in financially, returned to parent club West Ham United without any bid forthcoming - though I understand there has been some interest,

THURSDAY: Rovers boss Dean Saunders, who said he still hoped to bring Ilunga back to the club, announced that he would not be giving veteran centre-back Richard Naylor a new deal.

The former Ipswich and Leeds United skipper, who joined Rovers on a short-term contract in the summer, has not featured in recent weeks due to a combination of a badly broken finger and the form of Sam Hird.

He also revealed that young defender Mustapha Dumbuya had moved to Crystal Palace on a month’s loan.

FRIDAY: Former Rovers’ boss SeanO’Driscoll was one of the first people to be linked with the manager’s job at League One Bristol Rovers, who parted company with yet another team boss in midweek. If I were O’Driscoll, who I thought would have got himself fixed up with another club by now, I would give the Pirates a wide berth.

Not only do the directors have a bad reputation when it comes to giving managers the time to turn things around, as another former Doncaster boss Dave Penney will testify, but they also share the ground with Bristol Rugby Union Club. Given the fact that O’Driscoll was often critical of the fact that the Dons shared the Keepmoat Stadium, how long would it be before he was voicing his concerns about the playing surface?

SATURDAY: Speculation that striker Billy Sharp could have played his last game for Doncaster Rovers when he was left out of the side to face Notts County in the club’s FA Cup third round tie was rife among the media ahead of the game.

Our suspicions were confirmed by Saunders after the game. He admitted that Leicester City had met Rovers’ valuation and that he had subsequently withdrawn Sharp whilst negotations between the various parties took place. Sharp was badly missed as Rovers failed to cash in on their chances on their way to a disappointing 2-0 defeat against the Magpies.

County were all that I expected them to be - hard working and well organised - but Rovers failed to reach the heights of their performance against Barnsley five days earlier with several key men failing to fire on all cylinders.

There was better news for Doncaster sports fans across town at Castle Park where Doncaster Knights beat second-placed Bedford 33-12. It was an impressive result and one that confirmed that Castle Park is now starting to become something of a fortress again following back-to-back defeats earlier in the season.

Eighth-placed Knights, who are now 15 points clear of London Scottish with just five games to go, would look to have all but secured their place in the Promotion Play-Offs and with Nottingham and Rotherham Titans both losing, the club’s hopes of a top-five finish remain alive.

SUNDAY: Yorkshire’s John ‘Boy’ Walton, who I met at last month’s Bentley Ladies’ Thursday Night Charity Darts League presentation evening at the Co-op Club, crashed out of the Lakeside BDO World Darts Championships at the first hurdle. The 2001 champion and seventh seed had been confident of enjoying a good run.