Doncaster Rovers: Why Ben Whiteman's contract decision reflects incredibly well on the 'Rovers project' - Liam Hoden column

As statements of intent go, it is not a bad one at all.

By Liam Hoden
Thursday, 28th November 2019, 5:38 pm
Ben Whiteman
Ben Whiteman

But while Doncaster Rovers will take plenty of credit for tying down Ben Whiteman to a long-term contract – and rightly so – the gesture from the captain himself is arguably even more substantial for what it says about the club.

This is a player for whom interest only continues to grow. It is no exaggeration to say around a dozen clubs have expressed a desire to take the midfielder off Rovers’ hands since the summer.

Yet, his reaction to that interest has been to strengthen his commitment to Rovers even further.

It would be unfair to even hint at a suggestion the 23-year-old lacks a degree of ambition. He is fiercely determined to play at the highest level.

But he is looking long term, not at pound signs or quick fixes. Whiteman is fully convinced Doncaster Rovers is the right home for him right now.

It was a pleasure to spend a few minutes in his company earlier this week at Cantley Park, listening to him speak about his decision to sign a three-and-a-half year deal that will make it more difficult for potential suitors to prise him away.

Whiteman spoke with a great deal of affection about all aspects of the club, particularly Darren Moore and James Coppinger – both of whom he sees as valuable mentors for his own personal progression.

He believes he can achieve his ambition of rising to the next level with Rovers. And if it does not happen quick enough for his own rapid improvement, he is confident that spending the immediate future with Rovers will see him better equipped to thrive and prosper further up the pyramid.

It is becoming more fact than opinion: Ben Whiteman is going to play at the higher level.

He has arguably outgrown League One already in terms of being good enough to play in the Championship right now.

That he does not want to leave right now reflects incredibly well on Rovers.

The club have shown their own strong ambition already with the midfielder. In the summer, bids that at one time would have been snatched at were dismissed out of hand.

And they have followed up with a strong contract offer – after handing him the captaincy he has proven himself deserving of.

But they have also sold themselves as a club with great potential, ensuring committed and ambitious players like Whiteman do not jump ship at the first sign of interest.

And for that – as much as securing the services of an excellent player – the club should take real credit.