An agreement has been reached for Eric Kinder’s development squad to play their home fixtures at the state-of-the-art facility for a fifth successive season.
Following a restructure of the league format last season, regulations stipulate that Rovers will play three home matches at Ewood Park – the first being against Reading on Monday August 19th.
However, some of the biggest names in English football will be visiting Leigh this season – with Arsenal the first to arrive on Friday August 30th.
Rovers welcome Manchester United and Middlesbrough to Leigh in December and the top-class football continues in 2014, as reigning FA Youth Cup holders Norwich City arrive on January 20th, Tottenham Hotspur come to town on February 10th and Manchester City bring their expensively assembled squad on March 24th. Rovers complete their campaign at home to Wolves on April 7th.
“It is a proper stadium, it will have a proper atmosphere and it is a fantastic facility,” said Rovers’ new Under-21 head coach.
“I've been down to watch Rovers Reserves when I was working at Carlisle scouting and I've always thought it was a great place to play, so I think we are pretty lucky to have the chance to play here.
"It will help develop younger players, because they are playing at night at a proper stadium and I can imagine when we play the likes of Manchester United and Manchester City it will probably sound like an away game for us, but we've got to try and make it home and I'm sure it will be.
"I'm looking forward to seeing how we cope with the big boys from the Premier League and this can only add to the atmosphere and add to the importance of the Under-21 setup. In the past people have dismissed it, but we can't dismiss it because we've got to get more players through to the first team and this can only make it better playing here rather than at a training ground."
Manager Gary Bowyer believes that playing at Leigh Sports Village
will provide the perfect springboard to bring more players from the Under-21s to the senior set-up: “It’s a great venue for us and we’re delighted to be able to renew the relationship.
“It’s a great playing surface and it’s a real stadium and it helps to bridge that gap for the players when they’re stepping up from youth football to reserve team football and ultimately into the first team.
“Ever since I’ve been here, from being in charge of the youth team to being in charge of the reserves, the path’s always been clear to me – we’ve got to get players through those sides as quickly as possible and prepare them properly for the first team.
“We were fortunate enough two years ago to win our Northern section, but for me now as the manager, that’s not what I’m expecting Eric to do. We’re expecting him to prepare the players properly so that they can make the step up and join the likes of Adam Henley, Grant Hanley, Jason Lowe, Josh Morris, who have all gone through that process and played here at Leigh. That’s what we’ll be looking to do again this season with the group.”