Interest in the Football League’s lower-division cup competition may be at an all-time low but Doncaster Rovers supporters should have something to intrigue them in tonight’s trip to Mansfield Town.
Summer signing Alfie Beestin is set to make his Rovers debut in the Checkatrade Trophy clash at Field Mill.
Boss Darren Ferguson has high hopes for the 18-year-old creative midfielder, who joined from Tadcaster Albion earlier this month.
But he says Beestin still has lots to learn about life as a professional footballer if he is to succeed at Rovers.
“He needs to learn a lot about looking after himself and eating the right things,” Ferguson told The Star.
“He’s got to develop physically. He’s come from a totally different environment so we’ll give him time.
“He’s one that probably after Christmas you’ll see the best of.
“Ability-wise, he’s got a hell of a lot. I’m quite excited by the lad, without building him up too much.
“I can see things in him. I feel, if we do the right things with him, he can be a really good player.”
Beestin returned to the subs bench for Rovers for Saturday’s win over Yeovil Town after a bout of illness.
While he has yet to taste first-team action, he played 45 minutes in a behind-closed-doors game with Nuneaton Town last Tuesday.
Beestin could replace James Coppinger at the tip of a midfield diamond, with Ferguson hinting at resting the veteran midfielder after a busy start to the season.
Competition rules mean Ferguson tonight can make a maximum of six changes to the side that beat Yeovil.
“I will be making changes on Tuesday,” he said. “I can only make six but there is a good chance I will be making six.
“I need to make sure the ones that haven’t been playing are match-fit.
“It’s not about playing a weakened team. The ones that have been on the bench have to get 90 minutes if they can.
“Whatever team I pick on Tuesday, it’ll be a case of I want us to win the game and would expect us to win the game if we play well.
“The players are fully aware of that.”
After three consecutive league wins, Rovers are building the momentum that will hopefully deliver a promotion push.
While the Checkatrade Trophy is often seen as a distraction even for teams with far less lofty ambitions than Rovers, Ferguson insists he has a great deal of respect for the competition.
He said: “I don’t think it will get in the way. It’s a different format now with a group rather than a one-off game.
“We’ll treat it with respect because it’s a good tournament. I’ve been fortunate to win it as a player and a manager.
“Once you get through the initial stages, it really can catch the imagination.
“We’ll treat it accordingly and I will pick a team that can do a job.”