Darren Ferguson explains why it was 'imperative' Doncaster Rovers signed Ben Whiteman

Darren Ferguson says it was 'imperative' Doncaster Rovers swooped to sign Ben Whiteman on a permanent deal.

Thursday, 11th January 2018, 2:24 pm
Updated Friday, 12th January 2018, 11:10 am
Ben Whiteman

The 21-year-old has penned a three-and-a-half year deal at the Keepmoat Stadium after Rovers met Sheffield United’s six-figure valuation for the midfielder.

Blades boss Chris Wilder ended Whiteman’s loan at Rovers last week but after sealing moves for Ryan Leonard, Lee Evans and James Wilson has allowed him to develop his career elsewhere.

Ferguson, whose side host in-form Plymouth Argyle this weekend, said: “When they brought him back Chris needed the bodies but he said to me ‘we’re trying to get one or two in, if we do we’ll loan him back to you’.

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“My concern at the time was proven right in that I knew other clubs would be interested so a loan would have to become a permanent.

“I spoke to [chief executive] Gavin Baldwin and said we need to prepare ourselves to go permanent on this and we’ve done it.

“The boy’s keenness to come back to us was very evident and I think it was irrelevant who else was in for him. He was adamant he was coming back and we were obviously delighted with that.

“There was a figure Sheffield United wanted and we managed to do the deal pretty quickly.

“I think it was imperative we got him in.

“These are the sort of players we need to be signing as a football club moving forward, not just for the short term but for the long term as well given the age and quality we’ve got.

“There’s also the fact he’s a goalscoring midfielder and they’re quite rare at the moment. I think it was a must.”

Rovers signed goalkeeper Ian Lawlor and plucked striker Alfie May out of non-league last January.

And Whiteman’s arrival in this window continues their trend, under Ferguson, of recruiting young players with potential to improve and who have their best years ahead of them.

“What I’ve managed to do during the time I’ve been here is reduce the average age of the squad by two and a half years,” said Ferguson.

“I think we’ve got real quality in it and I think we’ve got real value to it now. I think that’s important.

“You’ve always got to have short term goals, mid-term goals and long term goals.

“Now we can really get our teeth into Ben. He’s one of our own players and we can get some work into him. There are certain positions I’ll need him to play in, different systems.

“He’s a very good signing for the football club.”