DONCASTER ROVERS: Saunders keen to downplay expectations - ANALYSIS

REALITY CHECK: Dejected Rovers players after Crewe's second goal.
REALITY CHECK: Dejected Rovers players after Crewe's second goal.

PRIOR to a great big reality check against Crewe, Dean Saunders would have been excused for licking his lips this week.

That is not a reference to the new Keepmoat Stadium menu, rather Dick Watson’s declaration that the playing budget has “changed” in light of the club’s solid start to the season.

But Saunders is not about to start doing cartwheels at Cantley Park. Not least after Tuesday night’s somewhat sobering defeat to the Railwaymen.

Only in January will the full extent of the budget flexibility be revealed, but it is safe to say Rovers are not about to tear up the strict business model that Watson and Terry Bramall insisted the club imposed.

Saunders is certainly not getting carried away with Watson’s statement.

And while the board now seem keen to talk up a possible promotion push, Rovers’ realistic boss is doing his best to downplay expectations.

“It’s nice to hear that,” Saunders said earlier this week on Watson’s budget update.

“But we’ve got a long way to go before January.

“A lot of things can happen before then and I’ll assess the situation when we get a bit nearer.

“People might come in for our players. If that’s the case we’ll have to replace them.

“Myself and Brian Flynn are watching lots of games and making sure we’ve got players lined up if that’s the case.”

Rovers’ impressive start back in League One has undoutedtedly exceeded expectations

But the start has also created something of a dilemma for the trio of major shareholders.

Their primary objective this season was to get the club on a firm financial footing following the £6 million drop in revenue brought on by relegation.

Should Rovers head into the transfer window in their current league position of sixth, the board will face a rather tricky dilemma of whether to go all out for promotion.

Saunders is typically cautious when asked about his squad’s promotion credentials.

“I’ve had nothing but support from John [Ryan], Dick [Watson] and Terry [Bramall] since I came here,” he said.

“They’ve been good to me.

“This is the first chance I’ve had to build my own team and I’ve had to put it together in a couple of months - and take £5.5million off the wage bill in the process.

“It’s not been easy but the lads that have come in have done a good job for us.

“Whether we’ve got the depth [to mount a promotion challenge] only time will tell. Injuries and suspensions might cost us.”

Injuries certainly cost Rovers on Tuesday night - most notably those to David Cotterill and Kyle Bennett.

Saunders knows the limitations of his squad. He wants the shareholders to be aware too.

In what is ultimately a poor division, however, a couple of additions in key positions come January could well be the difference between promotion and consolidation.

Stick or twist? Stabilise or push on? We’ll find out over the next few months.