RELEGATION battle-scarred Doncaster Rovers are preparing for their deadline day trip to Hull City next week with boss Dean Saunders shooting from the hip.
Saunders has not ruled out the possibility of more new arrivals before the January transfer window slams shut at 11pm next Tuesday - little more than an hour after the final whistle will blow at the KC Stadium.
But Rovers’ boss has also laid down the gauntlet to his current players by telling them to “stop shooting themselves in the foot”.
Saunders wants Rovers to end their sorry six-game losing run on the road at Hull by showing the form they have shown at the Keepmoat Stadium in recent months.
He insisted there is no siege mentality at the club despite losing James Coppinger and Habib Beye to injury and suspension respectively during an X-rated afternoon at Bristol City on Saturday.
And he added Rovers will continue to go in search of three points rather than one when Rovers make the short journey to East Yorkshire next week.
Saunders said: “Losing Copps and Habib has left us a bit short again so we’ll have to wait and see what happens before the deadline.
“All of a sudden at this time of year you can lose a player and then need to get one in from somewhere else - and other clubs are in exactly the same boat.
“It’s like a domino effect.
“But the players here already have done the business at home against some big teams and we need to start doing that away from home.
“There’s no siege mentality,” he added.
“The boys showed some real spirit at Bristol and stuck together as a group. It’s up to them to show the same spirit at Hull.
“There’s no escaping it wasn’t a good result for us and we need to start grinding out results away from home - but the fact is we’ve had some bad decisions go against us on the road.
“We have to stop shooting ourselves in the foot though.
“You cannot just let somebody have a free header like we did on Saturday.
“You cannot get sent off or give the referee an excuse to send you off.
“And we cannot go giving away soft penalties.
“But these things tend to happen to a team in trouble at the wrong end of the league.
“It’s my job to turn things round and we’ve shown signs of doing just that. We’re in games for longer and we’re showing some real character.
“We have to win nine more games to stay up,” he added.
“We’ve beaten some top teams and if we can play like we did in those games we can give anyone in this division a decent game.”
Saunders was still incensed by referee Fred Graham’s decision to show Beye a red card for his challenge on Cole Skuse when he spoke to the Free Press this week.
A frustrating afternoon at Ashton Gate was then compounded when Rovers learned that Coppinger had suffered a fractured cheekbone in an earlier clash with Yannick Bolasie - although the forward may not require surgery and could return to action in six weeks.
Saunders said: “Habib left the ground but he didn’t go in with two feet - he had one foot tucked under him.
“I suppose by leaving the ground he gave the referee the option to send him off.
“But I watched Match of the Day and saw a similar tackle by Seb Larsson that did not even get a yellow card.
“The problem is referees are being left to interpret tackles - and if you’ve not played the game you don’t understand whether a tackle is dangerous or not.
“There’s too much of a grey area in the laws of the game and until that gets sorted out we’ll continue to have these problems - it’s something that is ruining the game.
“The challenge on Copps was right in front of the fourth official and the lad didn’t even get booked,” added Saunders.
“Thankfully he might not be out for as long as we first feared but we’ve got to wait to see if it heals before deciding whether James needs surgery.”
Habib Bamogo, Martin Woods and John Oster are in contention to replace Coppinger at Hull, with Adam Lockwood likely to deputise for Beye.
Herold Goulon has returned to Blackburn Rovers after his loan spell came to an end.