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Rams test for the young Rovers

10 August 2015

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Rovers Under-21s get their league season underway this evening when they take on Derby County at Leigh Sports Village - kick-off 7.00pm.

Damien Johnson's development squad will be eager to start the new campaign strongly after completing their pre-season preparations.

The U21s began the summer with comprehensive wins over Burscough and Knaresborough Town, but tasted defeat at the hands of Bamber Bridge, Chorley and AFC Fylde, so a strong start is essential.

Johnson is looking forward to taking charge at Leigh for the first time this evening, the seventh season Rovers have played there. And the U21s boss has laid down the challenge to his squad this season, to follow in the footsteps of those who broke into the first team last year.

"I've been to watch a few games there and it is a great venue," said Johnson. "It will be nice to play our football there.

"If you look at the fixtures they are all going to be tough for us but we've got to prepare the team and make sure that we are ready for the challenges that lie ahead.

"The lads finished strongly last season and got to the cup final, but the important thing is the development of the players and getting them into the first team squad.

"That happened last year with three of the lads, Darragh, John and David all playing in the first team and obviously there's been others getting close to the first team.

"So that is the challenge for this group now - who is going to be the next player to make the first team? The manager has been great with me and he's laid that challenge down to the players as well.

"So the Under-21 staff will be looking for them to continue the progress and the strides they made last year to see who the next one can be to break into that first team squad."

Last season against the Rams saw both sides gain away wins. Derby winning at Ewood 4-3, before Rovers got the better of their opponents in the reverse fixture with a 1-0 win at Derby's training ground at the end of April.

With the first team in cup action on Tuesday night, Johnson is expected to name a young squad for tonight's game, full team news to be confirmed later.

Supporters can see this evening's match at Leigh for free by simply registering online at

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