Contracts, selection issues, Madger Gomes, trialists! - Your Doncaster Rovers questions answered

It has been another eventful week at Doncaster Rovers with new faces settling in superbly as they swept past Tranmere Rovers.

Friday, 7th February 2020, 7:42 pm
Updated Friday, 7th February 2020, 7:42 pm
Jacob Ramsey shoots on goal against Tranmere Rovers
Jacob Ramsey shoots on goal against Tranmere Rovers

Here, our Rovers writer Liam Hoden addresses a selection of supporter questions on all manner of topics at the club.

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Doncaster Rovers Q&A

Last updated: Friday, 07 February, 2020, 19:35

  • Rovers reporter Liam Hoden answers your questions

In basic terms, the plan is to improve and strengthen the U23s squad each year. The ultimate goal is to build a squad of around a dozen players who will be able to step up to first team level if required either immediately or in the near future.

Rovers will be rather ruthless in the way in which they go about crafting the squad. Existing U23 players will have to prove themselves worthy of their place on a consistent basis or face being turfed out. Players from the U18s will be given the opportunity to step up also.

And then there is recruitment from elsewhere, as we saw with the addition of Harrison Myring, which unfortunately due to injury did not pan out. The use of trialists this season has been part of a searching mission, to unearth promising talent that is available to Rovers.

The ultimate goal is for there to be options in each position at various stages of development. For example, a right back coming through the youth set up that will be ready in a few years plus a right back in the U23s that could step up if required and will step up in a year or so.

The U23s group has arguably seen the biggest change of any department since Darren Moore's appointment. And it's led by a demanding coach in Gary McSheffrey who expects high standards at all times and is not afraid to highlight weaknesses or errors. It will be very interesting to see how it develops in the next couple of years.

Amazingly, all are fine after running around on mud and sand for 90 minutes on Tuesday night. The Rovers squad is in remarkably good health at the minute - which hopefully isn't a jinx.

You'll have likely seen that Alex Kiwomya has departed on loan for the next month.

It is fair to say that it would be very surprising were Kiwomya to receive a new contract in the summer. Rovers were keen to send the forward out on a long term loan in both the summer and January transfer windows.

He has been very unfortunate with illness and injury since arriving at Rovers nearly three years ago but also has not kicked on in the times where he has been available.

Unfortunately, he has done little to suggest he should be offered a new contract. And, as he is set to turn 24 in May, age is not on his side in that regard.

Plenty to tackle here.

Darren Moore will already have targets in mind for the summer on various fronts. The list of potential targets for each position will constantly be updated by talent identification manager Adam Henshall and research work will be carried out to ascertain availability of certain players in the summer.

Moore spoke just yesterday about having potential loanees in mind who may not yet be ready to step up to senior level, largely due to the physical demands. Players such as this will be monitored.

On interest for existing players, surprisingly there were no firm approaches during January at all. There will inevitably be interest out there - Ben Whiteman's representatives have been made aware of more than a dozen clubs keen on his signature - but Rovers maintain a stance of no one is for sale.

On Seny Dieng, Darren Moore is not confident a deal could be done. He is contracted until next summer with QPR and Moore believes he is very highly rated at Loftus Road. Even if they are willing to allow him to leave, you would expect Rovers to face very strong competition after the brilliant season he has had up here.

I'll have a story up in the coming days on Madger Gomes' improvement and what it is down to. It's not been any harm to him that he's been around and actively involved in a senior squad since the start of the season.

Ask most and I think they will agree with you on Gomes. He's been brilliant over the last month. What has impressed me the most has been his versatility - either acting as a blocker or producing neat and tidy stuff on the ball. It's really clicked for him and it's not surprising that he's earned himself a good run in the side.

A little. He was very good for the U23s during his trial and certainly has plenty of potential. He also plays in a position where Rovers are not well stocked at that age level.

But having been part of a senior set up in MLS last season, he may himself be reluctant to drop down to U23 level, or at least keen to see what his options are first and foremost.

Darren Moore has said he will keep an eye out for the trialists so this one may not be entirely dead and buried.

I'm very optimistic at the minute. Rovers have answered a lot of questions over the last couple of months and are looking really strong in a very inconsistent division where there are few stand-outs. The potential is there and I believe with the new additions, Rovers can really kick on. The challenge will be the number of games remaining, plus the fact the majority of them are away from home. It'll be a testing period for the squad but hopefully the new signings have bolstered it enough.

The issue is what you may pick as the best XI may not be the XI that are sent out each weekend. Darren Moore selects a team and system with the opposition and conditions in mind. That is why you have not seen Copps start the recent away matches, because they weren't expected to be his sort of game. Mainly they haven't been, for one reason or another. I think there is certainly a place for James Coppinger when Rovers are likely to be given space, or need plenty of craft and guile to unlock the opposition. Don't rule him out yet.

I've mentioned Seny Dieng elsewhere but I think there would be chance with a few of them.

It's difficult because you have to try to second guess what their parent clubs think the future holds for them. There is always the option of exploring the possibility of loans to the Championship next season, if they perform well in this campaign.

The likes of Cameron John, Niall Ennis and Ben Sheaf have a lot of work to do to trouble the senior squads of their respective clubs. No disrespect is meant to any of them with that statement. They have all performed superbly for Rovers this season. I am sure Rovers would be keen to explore the possibility of permanent deals for any of those. There is likely to be competition - particularly with John who was garnering a lot of interest earlier in the season.

Jacob Ramsey is very highly rated at Aston Villa and won't be going anywhere any time soon. I'm sure, given what Moore thinks of him, he will be asking whether a loan next season is possible though.

We've not seen Jason Lokilo yet but his route to the senior side at Crystal Palace does not seem very clear. If he impresses, don't rule out a permanent deal in the summer if Rovers can get it done.

The futures of those out of contract in the summer will be addressed in meetings between the coaching staff and also with the chairman and chief executive in the next few weeks. Darren Moore seems keen to cement decisions sooner rather than later, even if deals will not be fully sorted until closer to the summer.

Watford

James Coppinger is keen to play on and there will be no desire among the Rovers hierarchy to move him on in those circumstances. Darren Moore is the man with the deciding vote and he remains a very big fan of what Coppinger delivers both on the pitch and in the changing room. If I was a betting man, I'd say Copps will be getting a new contract.

Coaching is not something Coppinger has explored just yet. He's started working on other ventures over the past year, with retirement in mind but he will not approach the coaching route until he finally calls it a day.

The ball is very much in Kieran Sadlier's court when it comes to signing a new deal.

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