Saunders bemoans long injury list

PA Sport
Dean Saunders
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Dean Saunders

Doncaster manager Dean Saunders believes a spiralling injury list and the relentless demands of the npower Championship schedule have brought his side to the brink of relegation.

Saunders' men went down 2-1 to Burnley at the Keepmoat Stadium to leave them 11 points from safety at the foot of the table with four games remaining. Rovers' four-year stay in the second tier will end if they fail to record a first home win since January 2 against fellow strugglers Portsmouth on Saturday.

"The whole team's injured," Saunders said. "I don't know how it's fair that we can have a day to recover where Burnley have two. I've got some players where, if the game was tomorrow, they might have been all right."

A team sheet displaying nine changes from Saturday's 4-0 defeat at Leicester and winger Fabien Robert the only Saunders signing in the XI had prompted suggestions that a decision had been taken to jettison the raft of high-profile short-term signings brought in under the watch of agent Willie McKay but Saunders spoke of injuries.

"Carl Ikeme has torn a ligament in his big toe, (Pascal) Chimbonda's torn his hamstring, (Frederic) Piquionne pulled his hamstring at Leicester, (El-Hadji) Diouf pulled his hamstring at Leicester," he said.

"Habib Beye's got an ankle (injury) that he's been playing with and he couldn't play because of the swelling not going down - if the game had been tomorrow he might have been all right.

"Five of our better players are injured and, if you include Shelton Martis, Paul Keegan and Martin Woods, we've got a full team there that might have got a starting spot.

"We had a run of games Saturday, Tuesday, Friday and playing Leicester has finished a few of them off. It's an accumulation of having tired on top of tired and having to scrap for points. Eventually something's got to give."

On his side's incredibly slim survival chances, Saunders added: "We're not going to give up. We don't need snookers yet but we're not far off. We've got four games left, but we've still got a chance of staying in the Championship - a slight chance."

Clarets manager Eddie Howe said: "I thought we were excellent. First half we got into some great positions with some great counter-attacking football. We shot from distance an awful lot, much to my frustration on the sideline because I felt some of our decision making in the final third could have been better."

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