Doncaster Rovers 2 Stevenage 3: Furious Dickov is desperate to secure Wellens

PAUL DICKOV’S patience has finally snapped after watching his Doncaster Rovers side crash out of the FA Cup to League One’s basement club.

Doncaster Rovers' Mark Duffy in action against Stevenage.

They were unrecognisable from the side which had pushed Championship promotion chasers QPR all the way before falling to an agonising defeat on New Year’s Day and Dickov is determined to make changes.

Refusing to blame a horrendous catalogue of injuries or the fact that Rovers were without three of the side who had tested QPR, he says none of the team who started Saturday’s tie are safe if he is able to bring in replacements.

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The key to Doncaster pulling out of the Championship drop zone, however, is surely in re-signing one of the missing trio, Richie Wellens.

His short-term contract had run out and he was not at the Keepmoat on Saturday, but Dickov is optimistic he can persuade the attacking midfield man to stay.

He is adamant, too, that Doncaster have the resources to match potential offers from other clubs, including QPR, who are believed to be interested in the 33-year-old free agent.

“I spoke to Richie in the morning. I want him to stay, he wants to stay, so we will see where that takes us. I have always been confident about it and hopefully we will sort it out,” said Dickov.

The behind-the-scenes takeover battle may have been a factor in the delay over getting Wellens re-signed and Dickov admitted: “In an ideal world, we would have liked Richie sorted out a while ago, but we all know in football things are not always ideal.

“Richie is a top player and he is out of contract so there’s going to be other clubs interested, but he wants to stay.

“The QPR thing is a rumour as far as I know, but there are other clubs interested.

“Richie is up there with the best in the Championship and, with regards to us, he is the one player who gets us going, passing the ball, and with his experience and how he is, other players react to him. The performances he has had for us show he is one of the best.”

Dickov also says that David Syers, brought back from loan at Scunthorpe to fill Wellens’s role, has a future at Rovers even though the Iron want to sign him permanently and Bradford City had a representative watching their former player against Stevenage.

Dickov also has problems up front with Italian Federico Macheda – who has been recalled by Premier League champions Manchester United for assessment – along with their other loanees.

Strike partner Theo Robinson has also been ruled out for up to eight weeks after damaging his knee at Loftus Road, and it was left to Chris Brown to play the lone striker’s role on Saturday, lasting 72 minutes on his return from ankle problems.

Dickov continued: “Syers did okay, but we did not pass the ball or create enough chances to get Dave or any of our forwards in the game really.

“He has been away and scored goals and that is the reason we brought him back because, as well as conceding, the one thing we are lacking at the moment is a goal scorer and we have for a while.

“We now have Theo Robinson out for six to eight weeks. He’s had an operation on his knee and it is imperative that we get some strikers in.

“The injury situation is ridiculous. I have never known anything like it, but we can’t rush them back too soon because we don’t want them out injured again for longer.”

Central defender Bongani Khumalo was fit enough to gain a place on the bench and the Rovers manager is arranging a practice match tomorrow in the hope of helping to get more of his rehabilitating players back up to speed.

But injuries apart, none of Saturday’s starting XI had any excuse for the way they crashed out of the Cup, a stoppage-time cross from Liam Wakefield, which drifted over Chris Day, making the score closer than the display merited.

“(Saturday’s) performance underlines the need to strengthen and that performance was the final straw,” said Dickov.

“I am raging to tell you the truth because it was a competition I wanted to do well in.

“It means a lot to me and the club. To get an inept performance like that has disgusted me really.

“We were devoid of any intensity in our play, any real quality, but most of all a strong mentality and what I mean by that is maintaining high standards, to keep doing the same things, the right things, on a consistent basis.

“The group has shown us throughout the season, not just on Saturday, that they find it hard to sustain that and that is something I want to change.

“There were seven of that team out there who were involved in winning League One last season so they should have been more than good enough to get a result.

“Whether they thought it was because it was Stevenage it would be easy, I don’t know.

“The one thing I am going to have to do now is sort it out and if that means having to get players out, because there is not one player in there that can’t say that they have not had the chance, I will do it.

“I don’t care if it is one, two, five or six. If they are going to show me that they can’t perform not just with the ball but perform with intensity and desire, I will get them out.

“There comes a point where you make yourself look a bit stupid by backing the players all the time. I want to bring players in and, if that means getting a load out, I’ll do it.”

Stevenage, without a midweek game, were the fresher side throughout, Francois Zoko putting them ahead after the break, taking possession after Rovers captain Paul Quinn slipped having cut out a through ball and placing the ball beyond Ross Turnbull as Luke McCullough failed to react to the danger.

Peter Hartley beat Quinn to a corner to make it 2-0 on 64 minutes and although substitute Harry Forrester lashed home a volley from outside the area in the 72nd minute, Stevenage broke in the last minute and Darius Charles performed the last rites.

Turnbull should have been sent off when the visitors again broke at 3-2 and the goalkeeper clattered Michael Doughty but was only booked by Scott Duncan, who refused to allow a goal to stand as Luke Freeman struck the ball into an empty net.

Doncaster Rovers: Turnbull, Wakefield, Quinn, McCullough, Stevens; Duffy, Furman (Paynter 57), Woods, Cotterill (Forrester 57); Syers; Brown (Bennett 72). Unused substitutes: Maxted, De Val, Peterson, Khumalo.

Stevenage: Day, Jones, Ashton, Chorley, Hartley; Morais (Andrade 75), Doughty, Parrett (Wedgbury 75), Freeman; Haber (Charles 78), Zoko. Unused substitutes: Arnold, Burrow, Akins, Smith.

Referee: S Duncan (Northumberland).