Doncaster Rovers: Darren Ferguson seeks to stoke Mandeville in Andy Williams absence

Liam Mandeville has been urged to show greater mental strength

Liam Mandeville has been urged to show greater mental strength

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Darren Ferguson has laid down the gauntlet to his squad to step up in the absence of Andy Williams – and Liam Mandeville in particular.

Striker Williams was ruled out for up to ten weeks after suffering ankle ligament damage in the win over Barnet earlier this month.

Ferguson says his current players will get the first opportunity to shine while the club’s leading scorer recovers.

But he has warned he will not hesitate to bring in free agents if his current crop prove not up to task.

“At the moment, it’s simple,” Ferguson said. “People go on about getting a chance – I’m going to need the whole squad this season.

“When the opportunity comes, they’ve got to step up because there is no one else.

“If some people get opportunities and don’t take them, I’ll be bringing someone else in.

“We haven’t got time to waste.”

Ferguson in particular focused on young forward Liam Mandeville, who filled Williams’ regular berth alongside John Marquis in the Rovers attack for Saturday’s win over Colchester United.

He called on the 19-year-old to show greater mental strength and take a golden opportunity for a regular string of games.

He said: “I think Mandeville could be a really good player but he needs to understand himself that he’ll never get a better opportunity that he’s got now.

“He needs to step forward. He needs to really grasp the opportunity that I’m prepared to give him but mentally he needs to be stronger.

“He needs to be accepting that responsibility.

“I’ve got John Marquis, Liam, Alfie Beestin, Will Longbottom. Liam has got to be seeing he’s going to get an opportunity.

“He’s a very good player. I’ll be speaking to him.

“He did very well last week but he’s just got to be consistent now.”

Ferguson revealed he is also considering a change of formation in order to adapt to Williams’ absence.

He deployed a three man attack in the Checkatrade Trophy win at Mansfield Town earlier this season with Marquis flanked by Mandeville and Beestin.

“The good thing about John is he can play up on his own,” Ferguson said.

“We can play a different formation with one up and two off him.

“I like that formation. We used it very well with the younger lads at Mansfield.

“So we’ve got other things we can do.”