Ex-Doncaster Rovers youngster turns out for League Two rivals Stevenage in friendly

Former Doncaster Rovers youngster Ryan Wharton turned out for their League Two rivals Stevenage in a behind-closed-doors friendly on Tuesday.
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Defender Wharton, 18, currently plays for thirteenth-tier side Doncaster City, who formed this year and play in the Sheffield & Hallamshire County Senior Football League Division Two.

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Wharton’s teammate, Jake Drury, an 18-year-old midfielder with no academy background, also took part in the match against Luton Town’s development squad, which finished 3-3.

Former Doncaster Rovers youngster Ryan Wharton.Former Doncaster Rovers youngster Ryan Wharton.
Former Doncaster Rovers youngster Ryan Wharton.
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Wharton, who was released by Rovers after the club opted not to offer him a scholarship, said: “It was unreal, what a good experience.

“We both did alright. It was a very big step up in quality and tempo.”

Stevenage boss Steve Evans has invited the Blaxton-based pair back in January, having been impressed by what he saw on Monday and Tuesday.

Wharton, a bricklaying student at Doncaster College, described Evans as ‘very nice’ and added: "He was honest.

Jake Drury also featured for Stevenage on Tuesday.Jake Drury also featured for Stevenage on Tuesday.
Jake Drury also featured for Stevenage on Tuesday.
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"That’s what you want; if you are not good enough you want to know what to improve on.

"He said he was impressed with how we held our own because some of the people we played against today had already played in the Championship.”

The Hatters fielded Grimsby Town loanee John McAtee in the game as part of his rehabilitation from injury.

Discussing his Doncaster Rovers exit, Wharton, who played for the club from the age of seven, said: “It was very hard.

"I really did think I would get a scholarship.

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"I’m much happier now. I’m enjoying football, I wasn’t after I got released.”

On the prospect on earning a professional contract, Wharton added: “It would be absolutely unreal, I couldn’t even put it into words.

"It’s all I’ve ever wanted to be (a footballer).

"Jake loved it when he (Evans) said he wants us back for another week. He had the biggest smile on his face, I have never seen anything like it.

"He was absolutely over the moon.”

The opportunity for the pair was arranged by former football agent Willie McKay, the man behind Doncaster City, who are riding high at the top of the table in their inaugural campaign.

McKay told The Free Press: “That was part of the thought process behind Doncaster City, to have young players and give them an opportunity.

"They did the club and themselves proud.”