Doncaster Rovers: Kids told to toughen up

Looking to the future: Dean Saunders is aiming to improve the academy players on Rovers books
Looking to the future: Dean Saunders is aiming to improve the academy players on Rovers books
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DONCASTER Rovers manager Dean Saunders wants the club’s juniors to adopt the work and team ethic which helped make Liverpool one of the biggest names in Europe in the seventies and eighties.

Saunders said: “When I was at Liverpool, it was all about players playing for the team and that is what I was brought up on because my first manager was John Toshack and my dad (Roy) played for Liverpool for 12 years.

“When I went to Liverpool, I realised that they were saying the same things as my dad and that stuck with me all the way through my playing career. It’s about working hard and if you don’t work hard, and you are lazy, you are the odd one out.

“You’ve got to form a player’s character so that they are competitive and every game matters and every loose ball matters and every run you make matters.

“That has got to be drilled into our young players and that is what I am going to do.

“Some of the young players have gone soft and a lot of the things they can get their hands these days soften them up.

“We’ve got to get them off the settee, off the video games, and get them out training and get them out working.”

Saunders plans to meet with the coaches running the club’s Centre of Excellence teams to discuss his ideas.

He told The Star: “Players like the five youth team players I’ve just signed are getting their character’s shaped when they were 13 or 14 and sometimes it is too late to change their attitude (when I get them at 17).

“What I’m hoping to do is to instil the right attitude into young players at an early age so that it becomes a culture at the club. The idea in future is that if anyone signs a kid who has been released from Doncaster - and we can’t sign them all - they will know what they are getting.

“What we are wanting is to get lads coming through who no one way to play and who work hard and respect their team-mates.

“Once we get the work ethic in place then in future whenever I watch the Under-16s, for example, I will enjoy watching them because they will all play with enthusiasm because that is the norm and they don’t know any different. I want to put some passion back into the game. Players have got to be wanting to run and wanting to work and try and get the ball back (when we’ve lost it) and chase lost causes.”

n Former Rovers and Rotherham striker Leo Fortune-West has been named Armthorpe Welfare’s new manager.