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The Big Interview: Liam’s living the dream

Doncaster Rovers v Owls.....Owls Chris MaGuire gets away from Rovers Liam Wakefield

Doncaster Rovers v Owls.....Owls Chris MaGuire gets away from Rovers Liam Wakefield

  • by Paul Goodwin
 

YOUNG Liam Wakefield gets up every single morning with one clear motivation: he does not want the dream to end.

The highly-rated teenager, one of five youth team graduates offered professional terms last summer, is driven on by the desire to make a positive impression, to catch the manager’s eye in training, to do everything he possibly can to remain at the club he’s been at since the age of 12.

Cusworth lad Wakefield is living the Doncaster dream and he’s loving every minute of it.

With injuries aplenty in defence, the 18-year-old might have been handed his chance to impress this weekend as Rovers return to the familiar first round stage of the FA Cup.

But, much to his frustration, the former youth team skipper is cup tied - ironically after helping Saturday’s opponents Bradford Park Avenue set up a lucrative visit to the Keepmoat Stadium.

Wakefield’s hunger to play games saw him leave for Avenue on loan in August, a deal rubberstamped after Rovers’ 3-3 draw with the Conference North side in pre-season.

A rare start in a 3-1 win over Curzon Ashton in the second qualifying round was valuable game time for Wakefield.

But a twist of FA Cup fate also means his role this week has been confined to that of a club scout. The youngster has only good things to say about the wannabe giantkillers.

“They’ll come here and play,” said Wakefield.

“They’re a good side. They like to get the ball down and pass it.

“They’re not a typical lower league or Conference side who like to hit the channels. They get the ball down and play it out from the back.

“Danny Holland is the big targetman up front, he holds it up well and brings other people into play.

“Richard Marshall in the centre of midfield has got a good shot on him.

“And they’re dangerous on the wings. Paul Walker’s a tricky winger, he runs at people and gets good crosses in.”

Out of the quintet promoted from the youth ranks, Wakefield came up with the biggest reputation of the lot.

A string of commanding youth team displays at the heart of Doncaster’s defence alerted Arsenal to his obvious potential last season - something Wakefield is almost embarrassed to discuss.

There was never any danger, however, of the former Barnby Dun Rovers and West End Bentley junior losing focus.

If he did need one, a loan spell at the Horsfall Stadium in the sixth tier of English football would certainly provide something of a reality check.

“It went well, although it was a bit on and off in terms of games,” said Wakefield.

“I see myself as a centre back and I was asked to play right back a few times, but I enjoyed playing there and it helped me learn about a new position.

“The learning curve was the physical side of the game, and playing against men who have been doing if for years.

“I’ve got to be bigger, stronger and more vocal.

“It was frustrating being on the bench but they had a very settled first team and it was difficult to break into it.

“When I got my chance I did my best.

“It’s better to be part of a squad like here at Doncaster.

“It’s great to be with the first team, travelling to away games and feeling like you’re part of it.

“Obviously it’s more difficult to get games but I’ve just got to wait for my chance.

“If I get a chance in the first team I’ve got to be ready to take it.

“It’s a great feeling to be playing for my hometown team,” he continued.

“It’s just how I expected it to be - it’s challenging and hard work - but that’s the way it should be.

“It’s a nice feeling to be able to walk round Doncaster and know that you’re playing for your home town.

“I heard the rumours about Arsenal last season but unless there’s anything official you cannot really do anything about that.

“Basically everything I do this year is about getting another contract at Doncaster.

“Getting games is everything really.

“If it means going to Frickley, which is ten minutes from where I live, then so be it. I’ll go anywhere to be honest.

“I’ve got to do everything I can to start playing games in order to get a contract here.”

Wakefield, who made his Rovers debut as a late substitute against York City in the Capital One Cup might be on the fringes, but he is one of a small group of players to survive Dean Saunders’ summer revolution.

His assessment of the transition is telling.

“The mood’s great,” he said. “It’s a lot better than last year.

“Last season it was just so tense when you walked into the training ground. Everywhere you went it was tense.

“Players were here that didn’t want to be here.

“And there were players here that didn’t want other players to be here.

“This year everyone is part of the team.

“That’s why it’s a lot better - and that’s why it’s great going to away games. You really feel part of the squad.

And his thoughts on the gaffer?

“Dean’s good,” he said. “He’s very understanding. He’s been there and done it.

“He’s been our age and he knows what it’s like as a kid coming through.

“He’ll push you when you need pushing and he’ll try and do his best for you.

“It’s good to have someone there who’s been there and done it.”

@paulgoodwinDFP

 

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