Dickov facing race against time as Rovers tighten their belt

Grimsby Town vs Doncaster Rovers -  Theo Robinson celebrates his goal
Grimsby Town vs Doncaster Rovers - Theo Robinson celebrates his goal

Paul Dickov is facing a race against time to get Rovers ready for the new season.

The Scot met Terry Bramall and Gavin Baldwin on Tuesday to discuss the way forward following the collapse of John Ryan and Louis Tomlinson’s takeover.

Paul Dickov

Paul Dickov

It is understood that the upshot of those talks, which continued yesterday, was that Dickov will have limited funds to add to his squad in the current transfer window.

He also faces a major battle to hold onto two of the club’s higher earners - Richie Wellens and James Coppinger.

The pair were both notable absentees from Tuesday night’s 4-0 friendly win at Grimsby Town, after which Dickov refused to comment on the club’s transfer lockdown.

Rovers currently have just 11 contracted professionals.

Dickov had hoped to sign ‘six or seven’ new players in time for Doncaster’s opening League One game at Yeovil on August 9.

But last week’s takeover collapse - after Ryan and Tomlinson failed to gain Football League approval - has knocked his transfer plans for six.

Goalkeepers Jamie Ashdown and Ben Williams, as well as striker Nathan Tyson, remain on trial and featured at Grimsby.

But it remains to be seen how much leverage Dickov has when it comes to bolstering his wafer-thin squad.

The stalemate situation at Doncaster saw trialist James Bailey join Barnsley on a two-year deal on Tuesday - and the Tykes could yet raid Rovers again while they remain in a state of transfer limbo.

Fellow trialists Peter Clarke, Elliott Kebbie and Cedric Evina were also missing from a very youthful squad at Blundell Park.

Rovers’ out of contract players - including Coppinger and Paul Keegan - are understood to have trained separately this week, to protect themselves from injury, as their futures continued to hang in the balance.

Meetings between Dickov, co-owner Bramall and chief executive Baldwin continued yesterday in a bid to thrash out the budget and transfer action plan.

Their prolonged nature on Tuesday meant Dickov only arrived at Grimsby’s Blundell Park at half time.

Rovers issued a statement last Friday, 24 hours after the takeover collapse, on behalf of Bramall - who vowed to back Dickov “with a playing budget that allows him to achieve all of our ambitions for a return to the Championship”.

But sources have told the Free Press that the owners’ preferred budget will give the Scot very little room to manoeuvre in the current transfer window.

Should Wellens activate his relegation release clause, that was potentially free up more funds.

While further doubt now also surrounds the future of Coppinger, the club’s longest serving player, who had previously agreed a contract extension on the basis of Ryan and Tomlinson’s takeover going through.

Doncaster are yet to sign a single player this summer and Dickov has so far been prevented from sanctioning any new contracts.

Meanwhile, defender Paul Quinn returned to training this week.