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Match Previews

Reserves season preview

19 August 2012

Looking back at events over the summer and looking forward to the new campaign.

Rovers Reserves get their season underway on Monday night when they take part in the new Barclays Under 21 Premier League.

The development squad kick off their 2012-13 campaign with an away trip to Norwich City in the new-look league.

Gary Bowyer's young side have done well this pre-season, winning six, drawing one and tasting defeat just the once in their eight games played.

And speaking ahead of the new campaign Gary Bowyer hopes that they can take that early form into the league matches.

"The lads have come back well, we've got a lot of the squad from last years FA Youth Cup final team and they've settled in well up here and we've had a good pre-season," said Bowyer.

"In pre-season we always try and take the lads our of their comfort zone to put them up against men to prepare them physically for what is coming.

"This pre-season we've had some very good games, FC United was excellent, the atmosphere generated by their fans was good. It was the same with FC Halifax Town, they provided us with a very very tough test physically which I thought we coped with quite well."

The Reserve team boss also took the squad away from the comfort of the training ground for a few days for a change of scenery, something he has always done both with the Academy and the Reserves over the years and he felt that it worked well.

"We went to a place called Hartpury College that was an outstanding facility for us and they looked after us brilliantly there," added Gary.

"We tied it in with a trip to the camp there at Hereford and also we played a game down there against Westfields as well, so we had four days away from the training ground and it was good for the lads to get away.

"The trip itself was magnificent in terms of team bonding, we had a couple of games of cricket in the evenings so that was quite interesting to see who could hold the bat properly and who had absolutely no idea.

"They'll remain nameless but there were a few that were useless. It was good, the whole trip was a fantastic event for us.

"We had worked them hard that week so we knew that with games against Westfields and then Curzon Ashton that they would be very tired. In both games we were a little bit leggy. But it was good for them to go through that test.

"We finished it off with a little trip to Warrington and again they provided us with a good test ahead of the new season."

With all the pre-season games played, Rovers now take part in the new Barclays Under 21 Premier League, grouped with Norwich City, Arsenal, West Bromwich Albion, Bolton Wanderers, Everton, Reading and West Ham United.

The sides will play each other home and away in the first half of the season and the league groupings will decide who plays who in the new year.

But whilst Gary Bowyer feels it will take time to adjust to the new format, it won't distract from the Reserves' main goal - to produce players for the first team.

"The Premier League have come out with a new format for the youth development side of things so it is a little bit different for us in that we now play teams home and away, and there are a lot more teams from down south so that is different.

"But our main focus will be getting the lads playing the right way, to develop and look to get them to push on and force their way into the Gaffer's squad, if not then get them out on loan and getting some league experience.

"Fortunately we've done that already with Ryan Edwards (Rochdale), Jordan Slew (Oldham), Myles Anderson (Aldershot) and Anthony O'Connor (Burton Albion) all going out on loan.

"I've seen Ryan play and he looks like he's doing well there and enjoying it. Anthony O'Connor has gone to Burton and he needs to be doing that to continue his development. Myles is at Aldershot now which is brilliant for him. I also watched Jordan Slew and he scored on his debut for Oldham so that was great to see.

"So we've four out so far so it is busy monitoring them and watching their games.

"What it does mean is it provides the opportunity for the younger ones. The likes of Kellen Daly and Will Beesley have done ever so well this pre-season for us as they are only 17.

"The make-up of the team this season will generally be 17 and 18 year olds with a couple who are 19 so we will be young, we'll certainly tick the criteria of being under 21. Plus we have the added flexibility of giving games to others if the Gaffer feels some seniors need some game time."

The match against Norwich City takes place on Monday evening at Norfolk FA ground at Bowthorpe. Kick-off is at 7pm.

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