Rovers boss to scour non-league for next gem

Jamie Vardy is one of the leading success stories to come out of non-league football
Jamie Vardy is one of the leading success stories to come out of non-league football
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Doncaster Rovers could be set to unearth the next Jamie Vardy - if Darren Ferguson has his way.

The Rovers boss built a reputation of having the ability of discovering non-league gems while in charge of Peterborough United.

And he has revealed Rovers will have specific non-league scouts deployed by the start of next season with work already underway in scouring the English football pyramid.

“We’re going have a different approach to the recruitment,” he told The Star.

“We’ve got things in place at the moment that are going to be firmly in place for the start of next season.

“But there’s also other things that are going on at the moment. I’ve got contacts as other staff have got and particular persons looking at the non-league.

“There are players in there. We enquired about one in January but it didn’t manage to happen.

“It’s a market I know well and I think you can pick up some good players for cheap.

“It’s not the only market we’re looking at but the recruitment has got to be right. It’s pivotal for the club looking forward.”

Vardy’s success in travelling from Stocksbridge Park Steels to the top of the Premier League with Leicester City has shone the spotlight on non-league as a viable breeding ground for talented players.

And, as Peterborough have shown, there are investment opportunities for Football League clubs to buy low and sell high if they can spot talent in the lower levels of the pyramid.

But Ferguson warned it has grown increasingly difficult to discover value in non-league, thanks to the success of players like Sheffield-born Vardy.

He has however hinted that targeting younger players as development opportunities may be the way forward for Rovers.

He said: “The ones we got through at Peterborough moved on for a lot of money - Aaron McLean, George Boyd, Craig Makail-Smith, Ryan Bennett, Lee Tomlin, Britt Assombalonga, there’s loads of them.

“I think it was about £30m we sold them for.

“We’ve got to try and do the same thing.

“But it’s definitely more difficult now. Vardy from Fleetwood to Leicester was £1m.

“We will try. The one thing I’ve always done is get younger ones in which we can develop and we don’t have to throw them straight in.

“I think that’s important.

“A lot of clubs are trying to do the same thing now.

“You see with Keshi Anderson, who we had on loan here. Crystal Palace took him from non-league which I don’t think would have happened three or four years go, getting him from that sort of level.”

“There’s definitely players out there, there’s no question.”

Reports surfaced earlier this week that Rovers are interested in signing highly-rated defender Jordan Wheatley from Ilkeston.

Brighton and Hove Albion reportedly had a bid accepted for the teenager late last year but the move failed to materialise. Tottenham Hotspur and Leicester have also shown interest according to reports.

Sheffield United signed striker Che Adams - who scored against Rovers at the weekend - from Ilkeston in November 2014.