Liam Mandeville’s enforced winter break might have come at just the right time, according to assistant boss Gavin Strachan.
The 19-year-old forward is yet to feature this year after ending 2016 in style with eight goals in 11 games, earning the EFL Young Player of the Month award for November in the process.
But he is set to return to the squad for tomorrow’s home clash with Crewe after recovering from a thigh injury.
“In a strange way it might have done him a little bit of good because he played a lot of games in a short period of time, which he wouldn’t have done before,” said Strachan, who filled in for manager Darren Ferguson at yesterday’s media call.
“So the little break might benefit him.
“He’s been back in training this week and he’s looked really lively.
“It gives the manager a wee problem, but a nice problem.”
Mandeville was tasked with making an impression on the first team before a ball was kicked this season and has exceeded expectations by reaching ten goals at the half-way stage.
He could find it difficult to regain his starting spot, however, after John Marquis and Andy Williams impressed up front in last weekend’s 3-1 win at Barnet.
“We had discussions in the close season and we hoped Liam would kick on this season,” said Strachan.
“We’re really pleased that he’s taken on board the stuff we’ve tried to do with him.
“Obviously he has a bit more self belief and confidence now.
“It’s been really pleasing to see him progress like he has done.
“Like any other young player who bursts onto the scene, he now needs to maintain it over a long period.”
Strachan said Rovers, who have not lost at home in the league since last March, have no new injury worries ahead of this weekend’s game.
n Rovers’ final game of the season against Hartlepool United at Victoria Park on Saturday, May 6, will now kick off at 5.30pm.