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Coaching duo make Rovers return

15 November 2015

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New Rovers manager Paul Lambert will be joined at Ewood Park by a couple of familiar faces to the club.

The Scot’s backroom team includes assistant manager Alan Irvine and first team coach Rob Kelly, who both enjoyed spells working with Rovers’ young stars earlier in their coaching careers.

As a player, Irvine represented Queen’s Park, Everton, Crystal Palace and Dundee United, before joining Rovers in 1989.

In his three years at Ewood Park, Irvine made 62 appearances, scoring three goals, before retiring from playing.

After hanging up his boots, he joined the coaching staff at Rovers, helping to bring the likes of David Dunn and Damien Duff through the ranks.

After a spell with Preston, he later moved on to Newcastle United, in a similar role, before returning to Everton, where he worked as assistant manager to David Moyes from 2002 to 2007.

Irvine’s first foray into management came with Preston North End, who came calling for his services in November 2007.

After steering the club away from relegation to a 15th-place finish that season, he then inspired a promotion bid the following year, as a late run of results saw Preston storm into the play-offs, where they were eventually edged out by Sheffield United.  

Irvine left Deepdale in December 2009 and was appointed manager of Sheffield Wednesday a month later.

He made an immediate impact, winning three games in the space of a week and picking up the Manager of the Month award for January. He guided the Owls to the fifth round of the FA Cup the following season, before leaving the club in February 2011.

He returned to Goodison Park that summer, as Academy director, before landing the top job at Premier League side West Bromwich Albion ahead of the 2014-15 season.

Irvine will be working alongside the man who was his assistant at Preston, Sheffield Wednesday and West Brom, Rob Kelly, who also makes a Rovers return.

Forced to retire from the game through injury at the age of just 24, Kelly started his career in coaching at Wolves before joining Rovers as part of the new Academy structure in 1997.

As coach for the Under-19s, Kelly lead Rovers to two FA Youth Cup finals. He would later go on to become the club's head of youth coaching before assisting Tony Parkes with the reserves.

He left in 2004 to join Leicester City, where he would go on to manage the first team after a successful spell as caretaker boss, which saw him pick up 21 points from a possible 30 in his first 10 games in charge.

After leaving Leicester in April 2007, Kelly joined the coaching staff at Preston and he again stepped up from his position as assistant manager to temporarily take over the first team reins following the sacking of Paul Simpson.

It was at Deepdale that Kelly first worked alongside Irvine and the new Rovers coaches would work together again at Sheffield Wednesday and West Brom, with Kelly also spending time as assistant manager to Steve McClaren at Nottingham Forest. His most recent role was assistant head coach to Uwe Rosler at Leeds United.

Also joining Lambert’s new-look backroom team is goalkeeping coach Laurence Batty.

Best remembered for his playing days at Woking, where he made over 400 appearances, Batty has held coaching roles at Woking, Fulham, Chelsea, Brentford, Wycombe, Colchester and Norwich City.

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