Dickov fighting to keep Bennett as Rovers announce exodus

Kyle Bennett.
Kyle Bennett.
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DONCASTER ROVERS will hold talks with winger Kyle Bennett later this week – with Paul Dickov still confident that the club can persuade him to sign a new deal despite strong interest from Portsmouth.

Bennett has been offered fresh terms by Rovers, who announced their retained list yesterday with Dean Furman, Reece Wabara, Theo Robinson, Jamie McCombe, Abdul Razak and Stephen Bywater among those released in what amounts to a sizeable clear-out.

After a disappointing campaign, Dickov has pledged to embark on a considerable squad overhaul in his quest to turn Rovers into firm League One promotion contenders in 2015-16.

And he remains hopeful that Bennett, who held talks with new Pompey boss Paul Cook on Thursday, will sign on the dotted line despite Cook expressing confidence that he can lure the 24-year-old to the south coast.

Dickov said: “There will be interest in him because he’s a good player, but all the conversations I’ve had with him and his representatives are that he wants to stay. We’ll sit down with him and his agent this week.

“I know about the interest and they are not trying to do it behind our backs – we’re aware of what’s going on – but all the indications are that he wants to stay.”

Another to be offered a new deal is former captain and current coach Rob Jones and despite the central defender turning 36 next November, Dickov has tabled an offer to the veteran, still a big figure on the pitch and in the dressing room. Dickov added: “Rob Jones had his injury problems, but I think he’s got a lot to offer on and off the pitch but the one thing we have stressed to the players who will be here next year is that there’s no guarantees. But Rob’s done a great job with the development squad and we want him to continue with the coaching side too.”

Dickov revealed the decision not to table offers to Furman and Wabara was a pragmatic one, given that both had expressed a desire to test themselves at Championship level.

The Rovers chief said that the ‘‘door is not entirely closed’ on Bywater returning to the club, with the club keeping their options open regarding the goalkeeping situation.

But Furman and Wabara are destined for pastures new.

Dickov added: “We sat down with them and spoke to their representatives and they expressed a desire to perhaps have a look a little higher.

“When we spoke to them, we had to say that we respect their opinion and want them to get a club at a higher level.

“But at the same time considering the problems we’ve encountered in previous seasons, we don’t want to be in a situation again with players who have been with us the previous season are not contracted for the forthcoming season.

“They are two fantastic kids who I’ve got a lot of time for and I spoke with them to wish them all the best and thank them for, not just their time at Doncaster but also the relationship I’ve had with them over the last five years of management.

“Dean was my captain at 22 at Oldham and has a lot of interest both here and abroad, so it was a difficult call.

“But at the same time what I can’t afford to do is let things drag on and affect the players that I want to keep next year,” he added.

Meanwhile, Rovers have appointed former Barnsley, Leicester City and Manchester City defender Gerry Taggart as the club’s new chief scout.