DONCASTER Rovers may have failed to tempt former Arsenal and France veteran Robert Pires, but they’ll be able to call upon several other former Premier stars, including West Ham United loanee Herita Ilunga, in Saturday’s derby at Barnsley.
“It is a very important game and we’ll be going there trying to pick up a win and keep the momentum going,” he told The Star.
“Results have been mixed since I’ve been here but we picked up a good win at Ipswich and we’ve got to keep working hard.
“We know that we can do much better (in terms of results) and that’s what we’ve got to do to pull away from the bottom three.
“Our next game after Barnsley is at home to Watford and we’ll also be looking to win that. Most of our fans didn’t see the win at Ipswich and we haven’t won at home for a few games.
“But it’s a tough league; I’ve been very surprised by the quality. There are no easy games. Every week is tough.”
Despite the fact that Rovers will go into the game at Oakwell, where they drew last season, propping up the Championship table, Ilunga has no regrets at joining the club on a three-month loan deal from West Ham United in a move designed to put him in the shop window at the same time as boosting manager Dean Saunders’ resources.
“I came here to play games,” said the Congo international who was languishing in West Ham’s reserve team at the time. “I am happy to be at Doncaster because I can feel the confidence of the manager and the rest of the players.
“I knew that there were some good players at Doncaster because I played against them for West Ham in the second league game of the season at the Keepmoat Stadium,
“I remember it being a very tough game for West Ham and we were very happy to pick up a 1-0 win. So, before I came to Doncaster I knew that they were a decent side.
“West Ham are obviously a bigger club than Doncaster and they have spent a lot of money on their squad to try and get back into the Premier League this season.
“I’m hoping that West Ham go back up because they are a big team and deserve to be in the Premier League.
“But I’m more interested in Doncaster right now and playing well for them until my loan ends in January.”
The 29-year-old said that he would look at staying on longer, if Rovers want to keep him, should there be no developments in the January transfer window.
Ilunga believes that Rovers’ policy of bringing in big-name players on short-term deals will prove beneficial.
“The club lost a lot of games and the heads of some players were down and when you bring in new players you give the club a lift,” he reasoned.
“El-Hadji Diouf has recently joined the club. He’s a very good player and he is helping us to do well.”
Rovers’ veteran midfielder Mark Wilson, who recently joined League One strugglers Walsall on a month’s loan, is hoping to extend his stay with the Saddlers.
The 32 year-old, who scored the Walsall goal in Saturday’s 1-1 FA Cup first round tie at Exeter, has failed to feature at first-team level since the arrival of Saunders.
He is out of contract at the end of the season and fears he hasn’t got a future with Rovers: “My short-term future is here for the next three or four games but I’d like to extend that into January, which is a big month,” he said. “I’m happy at Walsall at the moment and I’m really enjoying my football - which I haven’t been able to say for a while.”
Wilson, who played top flight football with both Manchester United and Midlesbrough earlier in his career, joined Rovers from FC Dallas in 2006.