Doncaster Rovers: Darren Ferguson explains decision to ditch under-21s team

Doncaster Rovers have ditched their under-21s team for the coming season.

Monday, 11th July 2016, 6:00 am
Liam Mandeville

The decision emphasises the club’s current focus on the first team and securing promotion back to League One at the first attempt.

It means Rovers’ youngsters will not participate in the Final Third Development League but instead will play in organised friendly matches.

Doncaster’s under-21s finished fifth in last season’s eight-team East Division. They frequently had to rely on under-18s to field a team, while manager Rob Jones left the club in February.

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Academy manager Paul Wilson also left Rovers this summer.

“We haven’t got scope for that,” said manager Darren Ferguson, of the under-21s team.

“It’s something I want to have, but certainly not at the moment.

“All the things that are going on underneath first team level are paramount to what I want to do, but the main focus this season has got to be on getting promoted. Everyone’s got to be aware of that. Promotion is the key.”

He added: “I’ve done it before [having an under-21s] where it just didn’t work.

“We just don’t have a big enough volume of players to do it and it ends up being a bit of a waste of time.

“If you do something, you’ve got to do it for the right reasons. At the moment we just don’t have the numbers.

“We’ll organise friendlies instead.

“Logistically it makes it a bit easier and you’ll probably get better standard of games too.”

Liam Mandeville, Joe Pugh and Will Longbottom are among Rovers’ group of younger players who hope to make an impact on the first team this season.

Ferguson told The Star last week that Rovers are close to appointing a new academy manager.