Rovers latest: Reserves in the balance

Rovers boss Dean Saunders.
Rovers boss Dean Saunders.

DONCASTER Rovers are considering ditching plans to revive their reserve team and instead becoming League One’s loan arrangers.

Dean Saunders had hoped to end Rovers’ five-year exile from the Central League and saw a competitive second string as a vital component of his youth development strategy.

But the financial realities of relegation from the Championship mean that Rovers are unlikely to be able to afford the luxury of a competitive reserve side.

And while Rovers earned a reputation for loaning players in last term, the club now look set to use the loan system in a very different way upon their return to the third tier.

Rovers will decide whether to apply to rejoin next season’s Central League at a board meeting in mid-June.

The club had been hoping to appoint a reserve team manager to their backroom staff, with former Burnley and Reading winger Glen Little believed to be in the running for the job.

Little, 36, signed a one-year contract extension at Wrexham last week.

Work is already underway on a possible back-up plan to the revival of the reserves - with Saunders ready to loan out his academy graduates to non-league clubs.

Rovers have alerted several Blue Square Premier and Blue Square North sides to the availability of the five youth team players offered professional deals at the end of last season.

Jordan Ball, Patrick Mullen, Jonathan Maxted, Andrew McCormick and Liam Wakefield will be given the chance to impress Saunders by reporting back for pre-season training with Doncaster in July.

But Rovers’ boss wants the youngsters to be playing competitive football every week.

Saunders said: “My intentions were to bring the reserve team back and we’re still talking about it, working out how much it will cost and what sort of squad we’ll have.

“It’s important the five young lads get the opportunity to play against men and get some first team football under their belts.

“The five of them have got a good chance of making it as footballers and I’m looking forward to seeing them when we return to training.

“There’s always a chance that they’ll have grown a bit and make an impact like James [Husband] did,” he added.

“But the plan is to loan them out and get them playing at a level as high as possible.

“I was playing against men from the age of 16 in the Welsh League for Swansea and it’s the only way you learn and develop as a player.”

Any youngsters who are loaned out will still be eligible to play for Rovers’ new under 21 development team, which WILL be introduced this season in line with new Football Association legislation.

Rovers resigned from the Pontins League in 2007 for financial reasons after finishing their 2006/07 campaign at the Keepmoat Stadium’s athletics arena.

A year earlier Mickey Lewis guided Doncaster’s reserves to the Pontins Division One (East) title.