DEAN Saunders expressed his delight at Habib Beye agreeing to extend his stay with Doncaster Rovers by a further 18 months.
The experienced defender had further talks yesterday as Rovers looked to secure him in a similar fashion to El Hadji Diouf who last week committed himself to another year and a half at the Keepmoat.
“Everything was agreed with him and when everything goes through it means we’ve got him for 18 months and I’m delighted about that,” said the Rovers boss.
“It was important we held on to him and we have managed to get a world class player for, well, not quite next to nothing but relatively small wages.
“He’s liked it here and been enjoying it and that’s important when a player comes to a club.
“I said that if we got people in on short-term deals then some of them would like it and stay.
“When people of the calibre of El-Hadji Diouf stay on, then others see that and it can help persuade them.”
Beye, whose career includes over 40 caps for Senegal and playing for top clubs in France as well as Newcastle and Aston Villa here, is due to sit out tomorrow’s game at Crystal Palace - assuming it goes ahead.
Conditions at Selhurst Park were not promising when Rovers checked yesterday and the London club plan a pitch inspection at lunchtime today.
If it is off then it would be the second successive postponement following the Reading home game last Saturday.
“We want to play because we have shown a bit of form recently and the sort of resilience I want from us,” said Saunders.
“We’ve kept clean sheets in three of the last four league games.
“We had 10 men for half-an-hour at Bristol City and didn’t concede and thought we could go to Hull and carry on that good work and we did that and we ground out a result across there.”
The goalless draw at the KC Stadium was Rovers’ first clean sheet away from home in the league all season.
On that evening, - with Habib Beye starting his three-match ban - Saunders called up Adam Lockwood to play alongside Sam Hird at the heart of the defence with James O’Connor and Tommy Spurr at full back and Saunders praised his back four’s performance whilst, behind them, on loan goalkeeper David Button had a splendid game. It is unlikely that Saunders would contemplate altering his defence for the trip to South London.
“If it goes ahead then I know it will be a tough game tomorrow.
“Lennie Lawrence, who I know well, is helping Dougie Freedman down there and they have some lively attacking players and a defence that isn’t giving a lot away.
“You could say that whilst we were sitting there watching last week, results elsewhere went for us,” added Saunders, a reference to defeats for Bristol City and Millwall, the two clubs immediately above third-bottom Rovers in the Championship table.
In addition, bottom side Coventry were beaten after being in a winning position whilst Forest’s game at Derby was called off on Sunday.
“But the bottom line is that we need to keep picking up points to ensure we keep in touch with those above us as we strive to overhaul them,” added Saunders.
His injury list has shortened considerably with only James Coppinger, George Friend and Neil Sullivan remaining out of contention. The two outfield players are likely to be sidelined for a further month.