DONCASTER Rovers’ midfielder Brian Stock is set to return to the squad in tomorrow’s testing Championship clash against Ipswich Town at Portman Road.
“I’d played every game since the new manager had come in but my groin felt a bit a tight ahead of Tuesday’s game so after talking to Dean and the physio it was decided that it made more sense not to risk it,” said Stock.
“But I trained yesterday and there was no problem and I’ll be available for the Ipswich game.”
Saunders, meanwhile, has doubts over on-loan stars Herita Ilunga and Ryan Mason.
“Ilunga needed a pain-killing injection in a toe before the Middlesbrough game on Tuesday and it’s still sore today,” said Saunders, who revealed that Mason had an ankle injury.
“We’ll see how they are but it could be Saturday morning before I finalise the team.”
Billy Sharp is again expected to feature, despite his much-publicised personal problems this week, as is new signing El Hadji Diouf who impressed Saunders on his Rovers’ debut in midweek.
“He’s not match-fit but I thought that it was a great performance and he showed touches of class and I suppose that is what people come to watch,” said the Doncaster boss.
Looking ahead to the game at Portman Road, Saunders said: “They’ve got a lot of good players who have played in the Premier League so it’s not going to be an easy game. If they all get it right on the day they can beat anyone (in the Championship).
“Ipswich manager Paul Jewell was my manager in my last year at Bradford. I know Paul and I know how he wants to play and we are going have a tough afternoon. But I am confident that we can go there and get something.
“I can see it all coming together. We had a really good first half on Tuesday - it was probably the best since I’ve been here - and we’ve got to try and extend that and stop conceding too many goals.”
Commenting on the fact that Ipswich will be without several regulars, Saunders said: “I don’t think it is about what they do. If you look at most of the goals that we are conceding they are our fault; they are nothing special.
“We need to tighten up and I will eventually get it right because all the teams that I’ve worked with ended up with a tight back-four and keeping a lot of clean sheets and I’ll end up getting it right.
“It’s just a case of getting the right players in the right positions and getting them to understand that they’ve got to work as a unit with the keeper.”
Jewell, meanwhile, has distanced himself from reports that he is set to make an approach for Sharp.
Jewell tried to sign both Sharp, valued at £2.3m in the deal, and James Coppinger at £300,000, in the summer in a £2.6m package.
“They’re both good players and we’re always looking to improve our squad,” he said yesterday. “But I don’t think it’s right for us to comment on other teams’ players.”
“It’s well documented we bid for the two of them but we couldn’t prise them away because the (Doncaster) chairman (John Ryan) didn’t want to sell them.
“They put money on their heads that we thought was silly. So we never discussed terms with the players.
“They’re Doncaster Rovers players and they’re fully committed to Doncaster.”