Transfer deadline days can often spring a shock or two and this one was no different with a huge and pleasant surprise for Rovers fans. Yes, thats right, for two days straight the official club website was first with the breaking news. And once that fact had been digested there was also some actual transfer activity for Rovers fans to lap up today; two new signings, one retention, and most notably, in the case of Brian Stock and Paul Heffernan who were heavily rumoured to be heading elsewhere, a squad of non-movers. Bringing in new players may be heralded by most, but the most significant business of this transfer window countdown in our eyes is Rovers’ ability to hang onto what they already have.
We have already mentioned the signing of young midfielder Jack Wilson in an earlier story, but his was the second significant bit of news for Rovers fans today. Earlier on came the welcome announcement, particularly in light of Jos Van Nieuwstadt’s departure yesterday, that Jason Shackell had extended his loan spell with the Rovers. Originally set to be with Doncaster for just a month Rovers have worked with Wolves to extend the centre half’s time at the Keepmoat Stadium for a further four months. Shackell, who has impressed in his appearances so far and picked up a deserved man of the match award on Saturday against Cardiff, will now remain with Rovers until January.
And that leads us onto the final piece of Rovers related news to be confirmed before the transfer window was pulled to, and the piece that most supporters are talking about; the signing of Billy Sharp on loan for the rest of the season. Of course there were rumours earlier in the summer that Rovers were prepared to fork out in excess of £1million for the striker, but most fans realised such a lofted figure was unlike and most probably beyond Rovers. However, as S**’s cataclysmic clock of doom ticked down Rovers managed to strike a deal with Sharp’s parent club Sheffield United to bring the striker to Rovers at the eleventh hour (albeit the eleventh hour at 4 o’clock).
Sharp began his career with Sheffield United in 2002, but with opportunities limited at Brammall Lane he eventually moved on to Scunthorpe United in 2005. At Glanford Park Sharp proved an instant hit thanks in no small measure to an impressive goal haul of 56 from 95 appearances. Sharp’s goals were key to Scunthorpe’s League One title success in 2007 and were enough to earn him a return to Sheffield United, but despite early promise the forward has again slipped down the order at Brammall Lane particularly since the Blades were able to sign Ched Evans in the summer. He is indeed a striker with an impressive pedigree, but forgive us if we don’t get excited until we’ve seen him play ok. Carl Alford and Justin Jackson arrived with significant pedigree as well you know.