The latest on Doncaster Rovers' search for loan signings as Richie Wellens admits he made need more than initially planned

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Richie Wellens has admitted he may need to exceed five loanees in his squad after Doncaster Rovers’ latest Covid-19 scare.

The Rovers boss is nervously awaiting the outcome of a PCR test for midfielder Matt Smith who missed Tuesday’s Carabao Cup win at Walsall as a result. Charlie Seaman would also be forced into self-isolation should Smith test positive.

Wellens had been dead set against bringing in more than five loanees - the maximum number permitted in a matchday squad - but said uncertainty due to Covid-19, on top of injuries, may force his hand.

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“I was no way going to go over the five, but if Covid is going to keep happening, I might need to go to six,” he told the Free Press.

Richie WellensRichie Wellens
Richie Wellens

“That’s simply because Matt Smith might be missing for three games. He might come back and one of the loan players could get injured.

“The squad is so small that I might have to do it.

“I’m loathe to do it because if everyone is fit, it’s a problem. But at the moment not everybody is fit and there is something called Covid about which keeps taking players off me.

“We need a couple of bodies in attacking areas, we need a bit more pace in the team so when we do start sliding balls through, teams won’t be able to catch us.”

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Rovers already have three loanees on their books in Smith, Pontus Dahlberg and Tiago Cukur.

John Bostock was forced off against Walsall with a groin issue while Tommy Rowe missed the game due to an ongoing problem with his Achilles.

Wellens is hopeful that he will be able to bring in at least one player before Saturday’s trip to Sheffield Wednesday.

Speaking after the Walsall game, Wellens said: “Graham Younger was at the game tonight and I’m making sure he doesn’t get out of the car park before I pull him and have a word with him.

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“Hopefully we might have one in. I don’t want to leave it until Friday like we did with Pontus where he’s literally through the door and he’s playing.

“Ideally we’d like to get it done Wednesday or Thursday.

“I honestly believe we need another striker, another winger and another midfielder.

“We’re going to need to bring players in now because Matt Smith could potentially miss Sheffield Wednesday, Accrington and Portsmouth.

“What do we do?

“We’re not a massive squad. We’re not an Ipswich or one of these clubs that have got loads of players.

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“We need to try to get someone in and sell that whoever comes in could potentially start because John Bostock is struggling with a groin problem. He was struggling in the warm-up and I thought he did well to get through.”

Rovers are exploring loans that will cost the club minimal funds but Wellens revealed some cash could be freed up after one of the club’s younger players has looked to have secured a loan move.

“I think potentially Lirak Hasani might be going to Matlock Town,” he said.

“I like it because it’s on the doorstep so I can get to watch him play men’s football and it keeps him fit. Every day he can train with us, Thursday nights he can train with Matlock.

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“And if he’s called upon, which he might be in the next month or so, at least he’s match ready and ready to go.

“That’ll free up a bit of money that could potentially go towards something.

“At the moment clubs are looking at us and saying ‘hang on, you’re offering us nothing’ where at least if we try to offer the best we can, it puts us in a better position and it’s more realistic if we do offer something towards the wage contribution.”


In these confusing and worrying times, local journalism is more vital than ever. Thanks to everyone who helps us ask the questions that matter by taking out a subscription or buying a paper. We stand together. Liam Hoden, editor.

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