Evolving Doncaster Rovers set to follow Barnsley’s lead

Darren Ferguson
Darren Ferguson
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Whisper it quietly, but Doncaster Rovers look set to follow Barnsley’s lead.

Rovers make the short journey to Oakwell tomorrow focused on righting the wrongs of last weekend’s dismal derby display against Sheffield United.

But for the last month boss Darren Ferguson has also been busy laying the foundations for more longer term changes at the club, beneath the first team.

And the model employed by near neighbours Barnsley, where youth is now at the forefront of their thoughts, is not too dissimilar to his vision for Doncaster.

Ferguson said: “What they’ve decided to do, which I think is a very good idea, and something we’re hopeful of doing in the long run is that they have invested quite a lot in their under-21s.

“With the younger players they’ve maybe put them away for a little bit and developed them. It makes a lot of sense.

“I keep going back to the fact that emergency loans are finishing, it’s something that clubs have to start preparing for and organising.

“It’s certainly something I would be wanting to do with this club in the not-too-distant future.

“They’ve invested wisely in younger players to develop and on top of that they’ve got some good players in their squad.”

Rovers’ new under-21 team finished second in last season’s Final Third Development East League but the side this term has often been made up of several youth teamers. Creating a stronger ‘middle’ group, Ferguson says, is vital.

“We’re trying to develop a situation where we have an under-21 group,” he said. “At the moment we haven’t. We’ve got the youth and the first team.

“We want a development group where three, four, maybe five of them would be with the first team. The aim in the long run is to identify players to come into that under-21 group with a view to making the step up.

“We want to create that middle group, as opposed to lads just jumping straight from the youth team into the first team. It’s not going to cost a fortune in terms of the budget. It can probably fit into that.

“Barnsley have done it quite well. They bought the boy [Marc] Roberts from Halifax and [Shaun] Tuton from Halifax, and one or two others we knew about but they just got in before us.”

Ferguson has already stated his intention to lower the average age of the first team squad and this week revealed plans to scour the non-league market in search for bargains.