RELEGATION-haunted Doncaster Rovers seem destined to be without influential striker El-Hadji Diouf until Boxing Day.
The Star understands Diouf is poised to return to light training this week following a hamstring problem.
However, the 30-year-old is unlikely to regain full fitness before the trip to Burnley on December 26.
Neither Diouf nor full-back Pascal Chimbonda (hip) are expected to be available for selection for the next two fixtures with Birmingham City and Leicester City.
Diouf, who has scored two goals in four appearances, suffered his injury in the goalless draw with Watford.
The 30-year-old has hinted he wants to stay with Rovers for the rest of the season and play a starring role in their battle to beat the drop.
Experienced defender Richard Naylor, who is on the sidelines with a broken finger, said: “Diouf has been great, his quality is second to none.
“On the training ground he’s been fantastic and shown the ability he’s got. He’s not afraid to work hard so he’s a good example to other players here.”
Senegalese international centre-back Lamine Diatta offiicially joined his fellow countryman Diouf at the Keepmoat Stadium last night. Diatta, who has spent the last week training with Rovers, has agreed a two-month deal to strengthen their defensive options. He has previously played for Newcastle, St Etienne and Lyon but has been without a club since his release from Tunisian side Etoile Sportive du Sahel earlier in the year.
“He’ll sign a short-term deal to try and help us through this period and we’ll see how he does,” said manager Dean Saunders. “He’s an experienced defender who has played in the World Cup and for some big clubs.”
If Diatta is given international clearance from the Tunisian Football Association, he could be involved in the Championship clash at Birmingham this weekend.
But Diatta, who has chalked up 40 international caps, may have to wait for his opportunity to dislodge new central pairing Habib Beye and Sam Hird, who were outstanding together in the victory over Southampton.
Adam Lockwood is in frame to be included in the squad for the trip to St Andrews having served his three-match ban.
Rovers half season tickets are on sale; adults are priced at £264, concessions £204, 17-20 £144, 12-16 £40 and 11 and under £20.
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