DONCASTER Rovers could face another battle to hang on to record signing Billy Sharp during the January transfer window.
Ipswich Town, who had a £2.6m bid for both Sharp, (valued at £2.3m in the package along with James Coppinger,) rejected by Rovers during the summer, remain keen.
Blues’ boss Paul Jewell, under pressure to get the club back on track in the Championship race, is said to be ready to table a new bid in January.
Although the Ipswich boss splashed out on the likes of Cardiff’s Michael Chopra, he is thought to have the bulk of the £8m fee Sunderland paid out to secure the services of teenager striker Connor Wickham still available to strengthen his squad.
Jewell’s determination to try and land Sharp from hard-up Rovers, who paid £1.15m for the 25 year-old 16 months ago, is likely to have increased after seeing him score a goal - his third in five games - as well as having a hand in the second of El-Hadji Diouf’s brace in the South Yorkshire club’s 3-2 win at Portman Road.
Jewell also saw Sharp score the Doncaster consolation in their 3-1 defeat at home to Middlesbrough four days earlier on a spying mission.
Although Rovers are known to be anxious to cut their crippling £8m wage bill, manager Dean Saunders would be reluctant to lose a talisman who has been the club’s top scorer for the last two seasons and is their top marksman this season despite being ruled out for nearly two months with an ankle ligament injury.
But he admits that the club would simply have to listen to ‘ridiculous’ offers given their financial situation.
Under contract until the end of the 2012-13 season, Sharp has a clause which states that Rovers would have to let him leave the Keepmoat should a rival club offer an agreed figure.
Southampton, who bid £3.25m for Sharp after Ipswich’s failed attempt, had their offer accepted by the board but the player rejected the chance to link up with Nigel Adkins - his former boss at Scunthorpe.
But with the promoted Saints riding high at the top of the Championship, Sharp could well respond more favourably were they to make another approach in January as Jewell reportedly believes they may do.
“We’d like to have him (Sharp) here.
“There’s no hiding from the fact we tried to get him in the summer because he’s a quality Championship player – he might even be Premier League standard,” said Jewell.