Rovers face battle to hold onto Billy Sharp and El Hadji Diouf

Rovers' Billy Sharp salutes the Rovers crowd after scoring against Southampton. Picture: Andrew Roe
Rovers' Billy Sharp salutes the Rovers crowd after scoring against Southampton. Picture: Andrew Roe

DEAN Saunders is desperate to hold onto star striker Billy Sharp but admits “the vultures are circling”.

And Rovers’ boss has revealed that the club may also face a battle to keep El Hadji Diouf - with several Premier League sides said to be eyeing up the Senegalese forward.

Sharp scored to earn his side a brilliant 1-0 win against Championship leaders Southampton and then declared he was in no rush to leave Doncaster.

But Saunders is realistic about the situation - although he says he is planning to ADD to Rovers’ striking options next month rather than replace anyone.

And the Free Press understands that Doncaster will try and tempt Switzerland international striker Innocent Emeghara to join on loan from French side Lorient when the transfer window reopens.

Saunders said: “I’m expecting people to make bids for Billy but they’ve got to match our valuation.

“I’m not really thinking about having to replace him in January, I want to add to what we’ve already got.

“Hopefully Marc-Antoine Fortune will stay longer than a month.

“And hopefully El Hadji Diouf will be here for the rest of the season - he’s very happy here and agreed to stay but we’ve still got to cross the t’s and dot the i’s on that one.

“There are a couple of Premier League teams showing an interest so it’s not a forgone conclusion.”

Sharp drilled home Fortune’s cross for his seventh of the season against Southampton, lifting Rovers off the bottom of the Championship in fine style.

After the game Saints boss Nigel Adkins refused to be drawn into conversation about his alleged interest in Sharp - but Ipswich Town boss Paul Jewell has made no secret of his admiration for the 25-year-old hot shot.

“I just hope he stays with us,” said Saunders.

“Obviously you don’t want to lose a goalscorer - I’d be mad if I said otherwise - but the vultures are circling.

“I’ve spoken to Billy a couple of times about the situation, I like to keep people informed if anything’s going on and if anybody’s interested.

“He seems quite happy with how things are going at the moment, he’s scored a few goals in recent weeks and long may that continue.”

Norwegian-born target Emeghara joined Lorient for £5 million from Grasshoppers Zurich at the start of the season but has only made three appearances for the French outfit.

Willie McKay was again in France this week and Emeghara and St Etienne powerhouse Moustapha Bayal Sall are thought to be at the top of Rovers’ wanted list, although they may face competition from West Ham United for utility man Sall.

Saunders, meanwhile, wants his team to carry on where they left off when they travel to Birmingham City for only the third time in almost 50 years on Saturday.

“The players are working harder for each other and there were signs against Southampton that they’re buying into what I’m trying to do,” said Saunders.

“We have to keep that momentum going and play with the same intensity this weekend.”