Tug-of-war over O'Driscoll reaches an impasse – but have we heard last of Yorkshire's managerial saga?

DONCASTER Rovers manager Sean O'Driscoll issued a statement yesterday playing down talk of a move to Sheffield United.

However, it hardly signals the end of the story.

O'Driscoll, who was happy to talk freely about his interest in the job last week, now feels that speculation about his future has become unhelpful and disruptive to the club.

The Blades had issued a statement on Monday saying there would be no appointment before the New Year – and, in a stroke, that delivered a vote of confidence in caretaker-manager John Carver and his players.

Now Rovers are effectively telling their players and supporters to do the same – forget about speculation in the short term and concentrate on the next few games.

It makes total sense but should not fool anyone into thinking O'Driscoll is still not a serious contender for the Bramall Lane job.

For if the Blades do slip up badly over the next four games, they are surely going to be on the phone to the Keepmoat Stadium. If they produce victory after victory, however, why would they opt to change anything?

Rovers chairman John Ryan has made it crystal clear that O'Driscoll is free to talk to other clubs. They would still have to cough up 'substantial' compensation but no one is saying that the exit door is closed.

A statement about the situation was issued to journalists prior to O'Driscoll's pre-match press conference for the Boxing Day game at Derby County.

"Contrary to reports in the national press this morning, Doncaster Rovers would like to confirm that Sean O'Driscoll has not accepted the post of manager at Sheffield United," it read. "O'Driscoll has distanced himself from media speculation linking him with the post stating, 'I am not part of the process of Sheffield United appointing a new manager. All the speculation that has surrounded this over the past week is extremely unhelpful and disruptive to the players and staff at both football clubs and is very unwelcome.'"

And that was that – O'Driscoll opting to make no further comment.

Rovers head to Derby on Boxing Day sitting just four points off the play-off zone. The Blades are just four points above the relegation zone.

Buoyed by a home win over Middlesbrough, O'Driscoll will be looking to secure another three points to keep pressure on the top six. His defence is still a major headache, with various full-backs injured, and a virus has also swept through the dressing room forcing some players to stay at home.

Snow had made it difficult to train on the club's pitches at Cantley Park and, with a possibility of postponements ahead due to the big freeze, O'Driscoll added his voice to the lobby for a mid-season break.

"We are talking about two seasons on the trot where we have had this kind of weather so I think we have to expect it," he said. "As soon as we start to expect it, the whole country will be fine. I would support the idea of a break."

He also questioned the wisdom of playing four games in nine days, especially in the current financial climate.

"It will be interesting to see what the attendances are across the country. It's a holiday period – so people have the option to watch football – but I am not sure that amount of games in such a short time is financially viable. It definitely is not, physically," he added.

O'Driscoll will allow his players to spend Christmas Day with their families but plans a light training session with the squad on Boxing Day morning before departing for Pride Park.