DEAN Saunders has set his sights on leading Doncaster Rovers out of the Championship relegation zone come Friday night.
The South Yorkshire club have been in the bottom three of the second tier of English football since mid-October and have lost three on the spin, falling five points adrift of safety.
But Saunders, who will give central defender Habib Beye (ankle) a late fitness test before naming his side for the clash with Crystal Palace tonight, kick-off 8pm, is determined to stop the rot and is challenging his players to see off the Eagles and Birmingham City over the next four days to boost their hopes of beating the drop.
Refusing to describe the fixture at Selhurst Park as a ‘must win’, Saunders said: “We have got eight games left and if we won them all, we would end up with 50 odd points.
“There is no reason why we can’t win them all. We have had no luck in certain games but I’ve said to the lads that by 10.30pm on Friday we could be out of the relegation zone. “We have beaten Palace at home and there is no reason why we can’t do it again.”
Having been beaten by Derby County, Millwall and Southampton, Saunders is desperate to turnaround the club’s fortunes.
“It is not easy to keep morale up but that’s my job,” said Saunders. “I have to use my experience and get us over the finishing line.
“We have had a bad three games, the worst run since I’ve been here, and we have given all those teams a chance and they are still trying to stay below us!
“We have to get some points on the board quickly.”
Beye is rated ‘touch and go’ by Saunders to be fit to face Palace as Rovers chase their first double of the season.
Fit-again Shelton Martis and Sam Hird are on standby should Beye not recover in time.
Fabrice Fernandes is also training again with Rovers and Saunders is considering offering the midfielder a short-term deal.
He said: “I will have a chat with him [Fabrice]. He just wants to play football. He’s had a bit of time off.
“He’s a class player and we might be able to use him because he’s getting fitter all the time.”