Alive and kicking

Rovers' Kyle Bennett puts his side ahead against Reading. Picture: Andrew Roe
Rovers' Kyle Bennett puts his side ahead against Reading. Picture: Andrew Roe

DEAN Saunders has challenged “little old Doncaster Rovers” to make their presence felt at both ends of the Championship - with the battle to avoid the drop set to go right to the wire.

Resurgent Rovers have put a dent in both West Ham and Reading’s promotion assault over the last week to raise hopes of a great escape.

Doncaster are still to face league leaders Southampton later this month, as well as play-off hopefuls Birmingham City, Leicester City and Middlesbrough as part of a tough run-in.

But Saunders, whose side are now unbeaten in five matches, has told his players to be the division’s promotion party-poopers.

Saunders said: “We’ve played some top sides in recent weeks and we’ve more than matched them.

“Nobody had stopped Reading for eight games but we stopped them.

“So I’ve asked the players who else can they beat at the top?

“Who else can we get one over?

“We’re doing pretty well at the moment - not bad for ‘little old Doncaster’.

“We were dead and buried at one stage, when we had one point from seven games,” he added.

“But we’ve got ourselves into a position now where we’ve given ourselves a real chance of turning things round.

“We’ve got two big games coming up at home. We’re hard to play against now.

“We need to win six games out of the last eleven.

“We can still afford a slip up but we need to be winning games rather than drawing them.”

Doncaster will target the first of those six victories against Derby County at the Keepmoat Stadium on Saturday.

Shelton Martis, who went off against West Ham with a groin problem, is hoping to return to the squad after being left out as a precaution against Reading.

Carl Ikeme needed painkillers to play on Tuesday night after aggravating his knee in the warm-up but the on-loan Wolves goalkeeper is expected to retain his place against the Rams.