DONCASTER Rovers skipper Brian Stock will not only miss tonight’s crucial Championship relegation clash at Nottingham Forest but he is likely to sit out the club’s other seven games this month.
The influential midfielder, who limped off after just 10 minutes of Saturday’s 1-1 draw against Brighton, went for a scan yesterday after which he was told that he had a grade two 10cm tear in his groin.
But The Star understands Rovers are closing in on long-term transfer target Frederic Piquionne and the talented striker is poised to join the club on loan until the end of the season from West Ham today. It is believed Rovers have agreed a deal for the Frenchman and he could feature at the City Ground tonight.
Manager Dean Saunders said: “I would like to thank Sam Allardyce [West Ham boss] and David Sullivan for allowing Frederic to come on loan to Doncaster.”
Piquionne, aged 33, turned down offers from Premier League duo Fulham and Sunderland during the January transfer window despite having fallen down in the pecking order at Upton Park.
Stock, meanwhile, said he is unsure of how long he could be on the sidelines for but added: “I’ve been told the worst-case scenario is six weeks.”
Midfielder Martin Woods, who had an injection last week in a bid to reduce the swelling in his knee is expected to again miss out as is Habib Bamogo - though he could be back in contention for Saturday’s trip to West Ham United.
Centre-back Shelton Martis reported a slight hamstring problem over the weekend but was able to take part in yesterday’s light training session.
Although Saunders won’t risk Martis if it is thought that there is any chance of him aggravating the muscle - Sam Hird or Adam Lockwood would come in - he made it clear yesterday that Martis and Habib Beye are his preferred centre-back pairing at the moment.
“Shelton, who has been out injured for a few weeks before returning to the side recently, has been involved in a lot of our wins and Habib is a top player and at the moment I see those two as our strongest pair,” he said.
Looking ahead to tonight’s game, Saunders said: “It is a massive game for both clubs. We’ve got a game in hand over Forest and if we can win there then we’ll be only three points behind them.
“It’s a big game for us and one we are looking forward to. We are matching every team we play against and there has not been one team who have bullied us.”
For the second successive game, Saunders will be facing one of his former clubs.
“I went there in my early 30s when I came back from Galatasaray,” recalled Saunders. “It’s a great club with a big tradition. I want them to stay in the league, obviously not at our expense, and I want them to get back where they belong, in the Premiership.”
Ex-Rovers assistant manager Richard O’Kelly is expected to be named the new Hereford United boss today. He will take over from Jamie Pitman, who was axed yesterday.