DEAN Saunders, the Doncaster Rovers manager, has defended controversial striker El Hadji Diouf who has been accused of spitting at Blackpool goalkeeper Matt Gilks during a tunnel bust-up.
Gary Taylor-Fletcher, who bagged two goals in their 3-1 victory at Rovers in midweek, has claimed Diouf spat at Gilks in the tunnel as both sides walked off at half-time.
But Saunders said: “I’ve spoken to him and he said he hadn’t done it. It’s not worth talking about so on we go.”
Saunders said the player’s reputation may have been a factor in the rumours and that he’d asked other players who said they had seen nothing.
Diouf, who scored a penalty against the Tangerines, was charged and banned for spitting offences while playing for Liverpool and Bolton between 2002 and 2004.
A Rovers spokesman said: “We have no comment to make other than there was no incident reported to the club after the game.”
Rovers, meanwhile, are hoping it will be a case of third time lucky against Leeds United in tomorrow’s Championship derby at Elland Road though they don’t boast the best of records there.
The former Premier League giants, who posted a 5-2 win in the corresponding fixture last season, have already beaten Rovers twice this season.
Simon Grayson, the man who was in charge in all three games, paid the price following several below-par performances last month and was replaced by caretaker boss Neil Redfearn - a man who is no stranger to Saunders.
“I played with Neil when I was at Bradford (in the Premier League) and he was a good midfielder who got goals,” he recalled. “It’s a difficult job being in charge of Leeds because there is a lot of expectation.
“But I’m more concerned about making sure that we are right. Most of my talking to the players is about what we do. Obviously we are tactically aware of what the opposition like to do and we near enough know how they are going to play.
“We know that they like to play a high-tempo game and that they are a competitive team with a lot of young legs and that they have some good strikers. We’ve got go there and be resilient and make sure that we compete with them. They will have been disappointed to have lost the game at Coventry in midweek due to a late penalty. I’m sure that they’ll be wanting to bounce back in front of their own fans.
“We’ve also got to try and bounce back from the Blackpool game on Tuesday.”
“We’ve got to be organised and don’t concede goals from things like throw-ins as we did against Blackpool.”
We know what to expect in terms of atmosphere. The crowd really behind the Leeds team and we’ve got to try and frustrate them.
“We’ll certainly be going there looking to try and win the game. Although we got beat by Blackpool we created more than enough chances to have got a result and I’d gladly take as many going into tomorrow’s game.”
Neither Martin Woods or ..trained yesterday but both men are expected to be fit to face Leeds.