WITH a run-in that includes games with two relegation rivals and a trio of teams locked in mid-table, Doncaster Rovers manager Dean Saunders has hope.
It is only a slim hope, mind, as Rovers are rock bottom of the Championship and six points adrift – or seven once goal difference is taken into account – of fourth bottom Coventry City, who the south Yorkshire club face on the penultimate weekend of the season.
Clearly, Doncaster need a stunning finish to the campaign to get out of trouble – a fact Saunders has acknowledged by setting his team a demanding target in the remaining half-dozen games.
He said: “The players have to win four out of the last six. The players have to keep going and keep fighting.
“We had a go against Birmingham (eight days ago when Rovers lost 3-1) and we have to keep going.”
The defeat to the promotion-chasing Blues took Rovers’ run to just one win in 15 games, underlining the size of the task facing Saunders’s men if safety is to be secured.
But the former Welsh international said: “Mentally, it is like getting a punch on the chin. But you have to fight. You don’t get anything for nothing.
“You don’t get a career because you just float through it, that is very rare. You have to fight and get over the downs.
“There are much more downs than ups in football. If you draw at home when you play for Chelsea, that is a down. But you get over it and your character gets you through.”
Today’s trip to 12th-placed Leicester City is followed by home games against Burnley, who are 16th, and second-bottom Portsmouth.
Trips to play-off chasing Middlesbrough and Coventry City are then followed by the final day visit of Ipswich Town to the Keepmoat Stadium.
To claim the requisite number of wins, Rovers will clearly have to improve with Saunders particularly frustrated by what he sees as an inability to either defend or take advantage of set-pieces.
The former Wales international striker said: “Whether it is just poor marking or not able to do it, that is why there are four leagues. It is why some defenders play in League Two and some are in the Premier League, because they can cope.”
Last six games: Leicester City WLDWDL, Doncaster Rovers DLLLDL.
Referee: R East (Wiltshire).
Last time: Leicester City 5 Doncaster Rovers 1; December 11, 2011; Championship.
SkyBet odds: Leicester to win 4-9; Doncaster to win 6-1; Draw 10-3.