Play with freedom call as Sharp casts shadow

DONCASTER ROVERS fans may be entitled to mutter a few ‘if onlys’ at the sight of Billy Sharp in a Reading shirt this afternoon but manager Paul Dickov is determined to move on.

Rovers' boss Paul Dickov.

Rovers were among several Championship clubs who enquired about bringing Sharp, who enjoyed a productive stint at the Keepmoat, in on loan but it was the Royals who won the autumnal race for his services.

Rovers claim Sharp was keen on a Keepmoat return, but what is for sure is that the Sheffield-born goal-poacher will be doing his level best to down his old club.

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Dickov said: “John Ryan spoke to Mr (Nicola) Cortese (Southampton chairman) about the possibility of taking him and we knew Billy was keen at the time and something we wanted to do, but it was not to be.

“Billy is someone I respect as a footballer and a person and it would have been great to have him, but he’s at Reading now.”

Rovers step out in Berkshire have had a fortnight to reflect on a head-turning victory over promotion-chasing Leicester City last time out and that result against his former club will enable them to play with freedom today, believes Dickov.

He added: “Getting three points against Leicester allows us to go there with no pressure on us. It’s another game where nobody will be expecting anything of us and we can play with a bit of freedom.”

Dickov has confirmed that summer signing Marc De Val Fernandez is not in immediate first-team contention, despite the ex-Real Madrid C player making his comeback from a knee injury with a goal in the 3-1 reserves win over Hartlepool in midweek.

He said: “We were all delighted to see Marc get 45 minutes under his belt, staff and his team-mates alike, and he’s going well. He’s probably a few weeks away from being involved, purely because we have got to look after him a little bit. It’s not just the fitness side of it, but a different culture he’s come into.

“But one thing I do know is that when he is fit, he will be a good player for us.

“Keegs (Paul Keegan) and (Dean) Furman were fantastic against Leicester, while Richie (Wellens) is a quality player. If you add Marc to that, all four of them (midfielders) bring something different to the table.”