Sharp’s departure affords Doncaster financial leeway in bid to keep Diouf

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DONCASTER Rovers are continuing talks aimed at securing El-Hadji Diouf’s services until the end of the season.

The Senegalese striker played the final game of a short-term deal for Rovers against Hull City on Tuesday night.

He is now a free agent but has expressed a willingness to stay and try to help the club avoid relegation.

Manager Dean Saunders said: “It’s really important to keep him. He wants to stay with us and we have got to try and come up with the right deal for him.”

Saunders and Rovers chairman John Ryan were due to sit down with the former Liverpool and Rangers star yesterday in an attempt to thrash out an acceptable deal.

Until now, Diouf has been paid only £2,000 a week but Rovers will need to increase that amount substantially to fight off interest from rival clubs.

He can no longer sign for a Premier League club, due to the closing of the transfer window, but is free to sign for other Football League clubs next week.

Foreign clubs chasing his signature, meanwhile, include American side LA Galaxy and the mega-rich Russian outfit Anzhi – the latter’s transfer window is open for another month.

“It makes it a bit easier for us now that Billy Sharp has left,” admitted Saunders. “We haven’t got to pay his wages any more and we have also got a transfer fee for him so that makes life a bit easier. Diouf is real quality and he is not even 100 per cent fit yet so of course I want him to stay.”

Tuesday night’s goalless draw ended a sequence of six consecutive defeats on the road but Rovers are still five points adrift of safety in the relegation zone.

Saunders, however, is confident of survival.

“I knew what I was letting myself in for when I joined this club,” he said. “We are back in the race and only two results away from going clear of the bottom.”