DEAN Saunders has left the door open for James Coppinger to make a Rovers return in January.
Coppinger has started just one game for Nottingham Forest since he joined the Reds in a beat-the-deadline loan move.
Saunders revealed to the Free Press this week that Forest agreed to pay ALL of Coppinger’s wages - meaning Rovers had no option but to let the 31-year-old join up with former manager Sean O’Driscoll.
But Rovers’ boss insists that Doncaster’s longest serving player – one of the club’s highest earners – still has a future at the Keepmoat Stadium.
Saunders also dismissed speculation among supporters that he and Coppinger parted on bad terms.
There was huge frustration in the Rovers camp at the timing of Coppinger’s deadline day departure to the City Ground on August 31.
The winger got off the team bus en-route to Yeovil and was whisked to Nottingham by his agent to sign for Forest with hours to spare.
But Saunders described rumours of a rift between the pair as “complete nonsense”.
Saunders told the Free Press: “What happens next with James depends on what Nottingham Forest want to do.
“He’s only started one game for them in two months. He’s been on the bench for most of that time which is frustrating for him and for us.
“We would like him to be playing but obviously I don’t pick their team.
“We’ve really just got to wait and see how it develops, it’s early days.
“James understands that they’re paying all of his wages and we had to do it [let him go out on loan].
“That’s why I’ve signed players till January.
“Let’s wait and see what happens.
“He’s got another year left on his contract here so he’s still very much our player and the door is open for him.”
On the rumours of a rift, Saunders added: “That’s not true at all.
“I’ve spoken to James several times over the last couple of months. There is no problem there.”
Coppinger, whose loan expires on January 2, has made just four appearances for moneybags Forest over the last two months – playing just over 100 minutes in total.
His only start came in a 2-1 defeat at Leeds United in September.
It has been a far from ideal few months for Coppinger, who was forced to release a statement last month categorically denying that he was involved in fixing horse races.
Coppinger was one of nine people, including former Rovers midfielder Mark Wilson, charged in connection with race-fixing by the British Horseracing Authority.
The former Newcastle and Exeter star has enjoyed being reunited with O’Driscoll, Billy Sharp and Simon Gillett at the Championship promotion chasers.
But he is also craving regular first team football - and he could emerge as a key man at the Keepmoat should Rovers find themselves in the promotion shake-up come January.