'You can't hold their hands too much' - James Coppinger on advising young talent at Doncaster Rovers

He may be a mentor figure for the Doncaster Rovers squad but James Coppinger says he will only ever take a hands-off approach to guiding the club’s young talent.

Monday, 10th February 2020, 5:11 pm

Not that the veteran forward does not wish to assist the next generation of players - quite the contrary.

Instead, Coppinger believes the best way for any youngster to learn is to throw themselves head first into the challenges of life in senior football, rather than being guided through every step.

And he is not entirely sure how much some players would take advice from someone more than twice their age in some cases.

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Doncaster Rovers veteran James Coppinger says young players don't need to have their hands held as they grow as a footballer
Doncaster Rovers veteran James Coppinger says young players don't need to have their hands held as they grow as a footballer

“I feel like I’m that much older than them now and my kids are nearly their age!” Coppinger said.

“What I try to do, and what I’ve tried to do over the last five years, I don’t want to get too involved.

“I feel like they have to find their way. If it’s that bad then I’ll step in and say ‘you need to do this, or try this.’

“But I feel like they have to make their own mistakes to an extent.

“They have to go it alone.

“I’ve done that with Ben Whiteman, Joe Wright - people like that who are coming on and have been through it now.

“I think if you’re holding their hands too much, they don’t experience as much.”

The 39-year-old believes it would be wrong to simply allow youngsters to go it alone and insists everyone needs guidance along the way.

But he says a lot of that comes down to the individual players seeking advice themselves.

Many members of the squad have spoken of Coppinger’s importance in his ability to give sage advice - something he is only too willing to give on request.

“They need to go through it with guidance,” he said.

“If they need to come to me then they would.

“Ben Sheaf has come to me a couple of times this season which is unbelievable for someone that age to ask questions as he has. It’s not always easy.

“He’s definitely switched on and it shows they want to improve as well.”