Doncaster Rovers manager search goes to next level, with aim of finding candidate by Christmas

Doncaster Rovers hope to find their new manager this week as the search went to its next level on Monday, 18 days after Richie Wellens was sacked.

CANDIDATE: Caretaker manager Gary McSheffrey has been asked to apply for the job on a permanent basis
CANDIDATE: Caretaker manager Gary McSheffrey has been asked to apply for the job on a permanent basis

Five candidates will be put through a first round of interviews before three are invited back for a second.

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A new manager or head coach really needs to be in place by the time the transfer window opens in the new year, with the relegation-threatened League One squad in need of surgery, but the club are hoping to have a decision by Christmas. Funds have been promised for the candidate who comes through the process.

The identity of the candidates has not been revealed but caretaker manager Gary McSheffrey is known to be one having been asked to apply by the board.

The under-18s coach, who played as winger for Rovers between 2016 and 2017, lost his first two matches but won his third, against Shrewsbury Town, to lift the team off the bottom of the table. They are, though, six points adrift of safety, albeit with a game in hand on the sides directly above. All three matches were at home.

Doncaster's perilous league position and tight finances were no deterrent to around 130 to 140 people who applied for the job.

Rovers say they are open-minded about whether Wellens' successor should be a manager or a head coach working with a director of football. If they have to appoint someone to the latter job as well, he will have to hit the ground running.

With New Year's Day falling on a Saturday, the transfer window will open on January 3 until midnight on January 31.

Wellens was forced to work with an extremely tight budget in his first summer in charge, but missing out on deadline-day targets - with Will Grigg, who instead joined Rotherham United on loan top of the list - has left money in the pot. The club has agreed a new naming rights deal on their stadium, which will be sponsored by Eco-Power from the December 27 game against

Sunderland, and organised two pop concerts, all of which will increase their spending power. The squad Wellens put together was very light on experience, and hampered by terrible injury problems.

Summer signing Tommy Rowe boasts more than 500 career appearances but with the exception of Tom Anderson, Ben Close and Jordy Hiwula - all in their 20s but at least into three figures for league starts - Wellens had a real shortage of additional experience and leadership in the squad, which has taken just one point away from home, and has twice lost 6-0 this season. Striker Omar Bogle could have provided some but was ostracised by Wellens, making his first appearance of the season only when McSheffrey took over.

Manager Darren Moore left for Sheffield Wednesday in March, with Doncaster Rovers Belles manager Andy Butler taking over until the end of the season as the team's form nosedived.

Rovers have collected 47 points in 49 League One games so far in 2021 - the least of any team to have played all year in the division and equal with Rotherham's tally after 22 matches.