Doncaster Rovers v Middlesbrough: Diouf and Sharp in the frame

New Doncaster Rovers signing El Hadji Diouf.
New Doncaster Rovers signing El Hadji Diouf.

EL Hadji Diouf and Billy Sharp are both in contention to start against Middlesbrough tonight.

Dean Saunders is weighing up whether to throw Diouf straight into the starting line-up after the Senegalese forward declared himself fit at Cantley Park yesterday.

The 30-year-old is lacking match sharpness but Saunders wants to boost his side’s firepower and could be inclined to start the former Liverpool and Bolton frontman.

Saunders is also set to find out this lunchtime if Sharp is available for selection.

Sharp missed Saturday’s draw with Coventry for personal reasons but the Free Press understands that he may be ready to return to the fray tonight.

Saunders must decide whether Diouf, who has trained with Wigan and West Ham in recent months, is ready to start - and also rule whether Sharp is in the right frame of mind to figure against the Teessiders.

Sharp has also been the subject of much tabloid speculation over the last week with Ipswich Town, whose boss Paul Jewell is a big admirer of Sharp, and Southampton said to be interested in the 25-year-old.

If Sharp declares himself available, Saunders may be tempted to use him from the bench - bearing in mind the impact he had on the crowd when he came on as a substitute against Crystal Palace in the new manager’s first game in charge.

James Hayter would be incredibly unfortunate to lose his place in the side after scoring against the Sky Blues on Saturday.

Brian Stock (groin), Pascal Chimbonda (toe), Herita Ilunga (toe) and Giles Barnes (concussion) are all hoping to be passed fit enough to retain their places in the starting eleven.