GILLINGHAM manager Stan Ternent wants to keep Blackburn Rovers duo Jonathon Douglas and Jay McEveley until the end of the season.

Douglas and McEveley recently joined the Gills on one-month loan deals but they have made such an impression at the south coast club that former Burnley boss Ternent is now hoping to extend the arrangement before Thursday's transfer deadline.

Gillingham were deep in relegation trouble when the Ewood pair first arrived at the Priestfield Stadium earlier this month.

However, the Championship strugglers have since managed to climb out of the bottom three thanks to a five-match unbeaten run and Ternent believes that rapid improvement is due in no small part to his on-loan Rovers.

Now Ternent hopes to persuade his Blackburn counterpart Mark Hughes to extend their stays.

"We still want to strengthen the team before the last seven games," said the Gillingham boss.

"If Mark Hughes would be kind enough to let them stay until the end of the season, we would be delighted but it will depend on Blackburn's own situation."

In the meantime, Hughes received a timely boost last night when Paul Dickov was pulled out of Scotland's squad to face Italy at the weekend.

The 32-year-old striker, who has been playing with a torn groin for the past three months, reported to Scotland's team hotel yesterday but was later sent home following an assessment by Walter Smith's medical staff.

That means Dickov will now get the long-awaited rest he needs to try and cure a problem which has been troubling him since the Boxing Day draw with Newcastle.

Rovers' next game is at Manchester United in 11 days' time but Hughes may decide to give Dickov an extra week's grace in readiness for the huge clashes with Southampton in the Premiership and Arsenal in the FA Cup semi-final next month.

"As well as James McFadden, Paul Dickov has also pulled out of the squad," said an SFA spokesman.

"He came to the team hotel and was assessed before it was decided that he should return home."

Five Blackburn players are away on international duty this week.

Lucas Neill and Brett Emerton have been named in Australia's squad for their games with Iraq and Indonesia, while Aaron Mokoena will play for South Africa against Uganda.

Morten Gamst Pedersen is also reparaing for a World Cup qualifier in Moldova with Norway and Jon Stead is in the England Under 21 squad for their European Championship qualifiers against Germany and Azerbaijan.