Saints’ Sharp has no room for divided loyalties

BILLY Sharp wants to kick-start his Southampton career with a goal against former club Doncaster Rovers.

Sharp, who scored 41 goals in 77 starts for Rovers, has been no more than a bit-part player since moving to Saints in a £1.8m deal two months ago.

He has started only three times and been kept on the bench with manager Nigel Adkins preferring to rely on strikers Rickie Lambert, Tadanari Lee, and Guly do Prado.

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“I’ve been bought for a lot of money and I want to repay that,” said Sharp ahead of his first reunion with Rovers today at the St Mary’s Stadium. “I want to make sure that I do something for this club to say that I helped get them promoted. I want to play, like I’ve always played, scoring goals.

“I need more time on the pitch to do that but there are 30 players here who are all really good so I’ve just got to bide my time,” he admitted. “I’ve been patient and I’ll wait for my chance. If I do get the nod, then I can’t wait to take that chance. All I’m waiting for is another chance to show what I can do and, hopefully, it will be on Saturday.”

While Sharp’s sale was vitally important to Rovers’ finances, it has been a major blow to the club’s bid for Championship survival.

In the 10 games since his departure, they have won just once and sit four points adrift of safety with nine games to play.

Sharp has fond memories of his spell with Rovers but inevitably there is no room for divided loyalties this afternoon.

“I spoke to a few of the lads in the week and I’m looking forward to seeing a few friends again and the staff as well,” he said. “They have got some really good players and I know what they’re about. They do try and play football but obviously it’s about confidence at the minute because they’re down at the bottom.

“We’ve just had two tough away games and got maximum points so people will be expecting us to win,” he added. “It’s going to be difficult and the pressure is on us – so we’ve got to show that we can handle that and get the three points.”

Rovers manager Dean Saunders was prevented from strengthening this week by financial limitations at the Keepmoat Stadium.

Former Southampton and Fulham midfielder Fabrice Fernandes is still training with the club, however, after coming out of semi-retirement.

“You have got to work within the guidelines of the club,” said Saunders. “You would like to bring people in but you can’t. We have got financial restrictions that we have to stick to. It’s nerve-wracking but we are four points from safety with a game in hand so we are in a miles better position than we have been for a long time.”

Table-topping Saints are expecting a bumper gate of over 32,000 this afternoon.