Dean Saunders is the loan-arranger: Wigan Athletic’s Chris Kirkland signs for Doncaster Rovers

Wigan Athletic goalkeeper Chris Kirkland during the Barclays Premier League match at the Reebok Stadium, Bolton. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday January 5, 2011. Photo credit should read: Dave Thompson/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Use subject to restrictions. Editorial print use only except with prior written approval. New media use requires licence from Football DataCo Ltd. Call +44 (0)1158 447447 or see www.pressassociation.com/images/restrictions for full restrictions.
Wigan Athletic goalkeeper Chris Kirkland during the Barclays Premier League match at the Reebok Stadium, Bolton. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday January 5, 2011. Photo credit should read: Dave Thompson/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Use subject to restrictions. Editorial print use only except with prior written approval. New media use requires licence from Football DataCo Ltd. Call +44 (0)1158 447447 or see www.pressassociation.com/images/restrictions for full restrictions.
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ROVERS last night sealed a three-month loan deal for former England goalkeeper Chris Kirkland.

The 30-year-old is likely to go straight into the squad for tomorrow night’s eagerly anticipated visit of Leeds United to the Keepmoat Stadium.

Dean Saunders has spent the last fortnight assessing the strengths and weaknesses of his squad - and after identifying the goalkeeping position as one of the weakest, he has wasted little time in recruiting Wigan Athletic’s Kirkland.

The former Liverpool keeper has found his first team opportunities limited at the DW Stadium since Roberto Martinez signed Ali Al-Habsi from Bolton Wanderers in the summer.

Doubts over Kirkland’s fitness appeared to be holding the deal up this week - and an agreement between Rovers and Wigan had not been expected until next week.

But last night Kirkland became the third Premier League star to be snapped up by Saunders, following the arrivals of Pascal Chimbonda and Herita Ilunga.

Kirkland, who suffers from a troublesome back problem, made just seven league appearances last season, including a loan spell at his hometown team of Leicester City.

He now comes into contention to replace Neil Sullivan in goal against Leeds - although a lack of preparation time with his new teammates is likely to see him start on the bench.

Wigan have agreed to pay a substantial percentage of their goalkeeper’s wages during his stay at Doncaster.

Kirkland’s arrival opens the door for Gary Woods - who started the season as first choice goalkeeper - to go out on loan and gain more experience at a lower level.