Doncaster Rovers: Grant McCann on plans to develop U23 set up and a new signing from non-league

Grant McCann
Grant McCann

Grant McCann has revealed his plans to craft a fully fledged Under 23s side at Doncaster Rovers within the next year.

And he plans on adding promising young players from outside the club in order to do so, with at least one new signing set to be made within the next few weeks.

McCann is keen to sign former trialist Rian McLean, who is currently on the books of tier seven side Enfield Town.

With new Academy manager Tony Cook now in place, his remit will be to continue feeding players through to scholarships.

But McCann is focused on developing the under 23s side.

"We want to have a strong U18s next year but also a strong U23s group," McCann told the Free Press.

"It'll be an actual U23s group, not just five or six players who train with John Schofield.

"It'll be a team and a proper structured team of really good young players.

"That will be added to with one or two players from non-league.

"Hopefully we'll see one of those coming in in the next week."

That signing could prove to be 19-year-old defender McLean, who underwent a trial with Rovers in November and featured for the U23s in the Premier League Cup against Sheffield United.

He was released by Leyton Orient last summer.

"Rian is one of them who we're thinking of," McCann said.

"We'll see how that goes.

"We're in discussions with him and his agent.

"If Rian does come here it will be as a development player. We see him as someone who we can develop over the next six months or so to break into our first team.

"He's 6ft1 or 2, he's strong, he's quick, strongly built.

"He can play in two or three positions in the back four and at holding midfield as well.

"His versatility is something we're keen on as well."

Finding potential gems within non-league is part of the overall plan to develop the U23 set up further and Rovers are actively looking.

McCann said: "We've got a new head of scouting in the Academy as well who is out in non-league looking all the time.

"Lee Glover is as well and Cliff Byrne.

"If we can improve our U23s by bringing in some gems from the non-league and giving them a chance to improve and develop on an every day level then we'll do that.

"We have to be casting our net further than Doncaster if we want to be bringing young players through.

"As much as we want to be bringing young players through, and this is no disrespect, if there's better out there then we'll get them in."

Bringing players through the Academy system remains a focus at Rovers, with Cook being handed the reins under the watchful eye of McCann.

This season has seen a number of the scholars at the club being handed opportunities within the first team squad.

Striker Rieves Boocock was recently handed his senior debut, coming off the bench in the win at Gillingham while AJ Greaves - who has been awarded a pro contract - was among the substitutes for last weekend's FA Cup triumph at Preston North End.

"If you look at all the younger lads this season, we've done quite well," McCann said.

"Three or four haven't kicked on but six or seven have. We're starting to churn out a few younger ones.

"Branden Horton has a pro contract, AJ Greaves does and both of them have been on the bench.

"Rieves Boocock has come on in a game, Myron Gibbons has been involved. Danny Amos, Will Longbottom - it goes on.

"We want to be getting to a point where we're not just getting U18s and U23s on the bench, we're regularly getting them into the team.

"We want to blood players through that we've developed and coached that have come through the system or we've brought in and worked with them for six months or so.

"The next stage is to play in the team every week and we're not too far away from that."