Chimbonda heads Rovers’ international rescue plan
Former Tottenham defender Chimbonda signed a short-term deal, subject to a medical and approval from the Football League.
The French full-back has been out of contract since being released by Queens Park Rangers in April this year but new Rovers chief Saunders has swooped to secure the 32-year-old’s services until the January transfer window.
Chimbonda featured for a Doncaster second-string side in a 3-2 victory over a Chesterfield XI yesterday and will be looking to help move his new club off the foot of the Championship table.
Saunders, who took over as manager less than a week ago, has already held talks with a string of out of work international players, including Danny Shittu, El Hadji-Diouf and Patrick Agyemang.
Former Liverpool striker El Hadji-Diouf will not be joining Rovers but centre-back Shittu and striker Agyemang are weighing up their options.
“Players like this don’t come around too often – and we are not spending fortunes to get them,” said Saunders. “Most of them – if they did sign – would be on short-term deals so they get the benefit and we do, too.
“If I can get more players I will,” he added. “I will keep putting them to the chairman and wait until he says ‘no’. That’s what I’m going to try and do.”
Chimbonda, who watched Tuesday’s 1-1 draw with Hull City, has spent the majority of his career in the Premier League with clubs such as Wigan Athletic, Spurs and Sunderland. He will provide cover at left-back in the absence of the injured Tommy Spurr.
“To sign a player like him at this club is a brilliant signing,” said Saunders. “It will make such a difference to the whole club.
“He’s only 30 (sic) and he’s gone for millions and millions of pounds to top clubs. He looks fit and he’s a class player. He’s obviously interested and I’m hopeful we can do something.”
Shittu, a former Nigerian international centre-back, was also released by QPR this summer and his previous clubs include Watford, Bolton Wanderers and Millwall.
Striker Agyemang, 30, is available on a free from QPR.
Rovers remain bottom of the Championship but have picked up four points in Saunders’s first two games as manager.
Saunders believes the threat of possible new arrivals is one of the reasons for improved results after previously going 19 games without a win. “I have told the players to go out and show me that is just a bad patch,” he said. “I said ‘if you show me you’re good enough, I won’t have to do major surgery’. We have got four points from two games so they have done well.”
Rovers travel to Peterborough United at the weekend but Saunders is looking forward to next month’s international break and an opportunity to work with his players on the training field.
“I am conscious of the fact that I’m not trying to cram too much into them too quickly and confuse them,” he said.
“We have an international break coming up and we will have a good two weeks where I can ram home all the things I want them to do and get a little bit more organised.”
Saunders has already encouraged Rovers to play a more direct style of football – which contrasts sharply with the philosophy of predecessor Sean O’Driscoll.
Hull manager Nigel Pearson, speaking after Tuesday’s draw, said: “Route One Doncaster! Not something you would hear yourself saying before the start of the season.
“They’ve had a very difficult start to the season, they need points, a new manager has come in, and they have had a good response,” he added.
Pearson was ‘disappointed’ that his own side managed only a draw – but the result still lifted Hull back into the Championship play-off zone until last night – a position they had fleetingly achieved on Saturday for the first time since his arrival 15 months ago.
“We want to have a successful season and that means being involved in the promotion race,” he said. “But the challenge remains exactly the same challenge it was at the start of the season. The most consistent sides will gain success.
“It was disappointing not to win. We could have been four points better off this week with the two away performances but it’s work in progress,” he said.
“We were looking for three points but I do know that we are a damn sight better off now than we were 12 months ago – in every area of the club.”
Barnsley have drawn six of their nine Championship matches following the 1-1 result at Derby and manager Keith Hill conceded: “With the injuries we have, we are very pleased to have done a salvage job.”
A stretched Barnsley squad lost three more players through injury and Hill will assess his squad during the international break.
He added: “We are so close but at the same time we are a million miles away. I think the young lads have done exceptionally well but they are not quite ready.”
Goalkeeper Luke Steele was outstanding and Hill said: “Luke is an incredible goalkeeper and I imagine that being the perfectionist he is he will think he should have saved the penalty.”
He was, however, beaten by Ben Davies’s 61st-minute spot-kick which cancelled out the first-half opener from Reds captain Jacob Butterfield.