DONCASTER Rovers begun their preparations for the 2011-12 Championship season yesterday as the players reported back for pre-season training at Cantley Park.
In addition to the three players signed, Tommy Spurr (Sheffield Wednesday), Kyle Bennett (Bury) and 18 year-old James Baxendale (Leeds United), there were a number of players, including 28 year-old QPR striker Ronan Vine.
They are all players that Rovers have an interest in signing - thought not all are likely to be offered a contract - and they will spend the week training with the club and they are all expected to feature in Thursday’s first warm-up game against local Northern Counties East League side Armthorpe Welfare.
Rovers boss Sean O’Driscoll addressed the players on arrival and introduced the new players and outlined his plans for the week.
“We tested everybody’s fitness to see where they are - though they all schedules to follow during the summer break and they had already been in on several occasions since the end of the season and from what we’d seen everyone had looked fine and raring to go,” said No 2 Richard O’Kelly.
“It is just a case of preparing for the first game of the season at Brighton. We will be concentrating on fitness work, football work and education.”
As has been customary since the two men arrived at the club, the players did some ball work on their first day back.
“The players are going to be playing football on Thursday so it is important that they get used to kicking a ball again,” said O’Kelly. “It would be ridiculous to deny the players the opportunity to practice with the ball.”
O’Kelly revealed to The Star that the squad would again be spending several days next week at an outward bound centre in the Lake District before playing Barrow at Holder Street on Saturday, July 16 in what will be the club’s second warm-up game.
He said: “It is a fantastic part of the country and we enjoyed it the last time we went there. They (the squad) are a good group of players and they talk to each other. But the place where we go is an environment where you don’t have some of the distractions of modern life, such as mobile phones, because they don’t work up there.
“Pre-season can be a bit long to be honest just playing football all the time and at the end of the five weeks you’ve had enough of it so going to places like the outward bound centre is a great way of breaking it up as well as helping the squad to bond.”
Rovers are hoping that out-of-contract veteran keeper Neil Sullivan and defender Sam Hird, who both reported back yesterday, will sign new deals within the next few days.