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A great challenge for the players

30 August 2016

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Development squad boss Damien Johnson believes this evening's Checkatrade Trophy match against Fleetwood will provide invaluable experience for his side.

The young Rovers have been invited to take part in this season's new-look competition, one of 16 Category 1 clubs involved.

Johnson feels the matches against strong league opposition will serve his side well, and give them a taste of what is like to be involved in first team football.

"As a club we are delighted to be invited, the criticism over the years is that with Under-21s football the gap between that and the first team is too big and a difficult one for players to make.

"So something like the Checkatrade Trophy certainly helps us bridge that gap and creates a more realistic challenge for the players in terms of what they are going to have to expect at first team level.

"In a PL2 game we might go to Swansea and play them at their training ground at 1pm in the afternoon, now that doesn't quite replicate what happens in the first team.

"But this will be at Fleetwood, at Carlisle, under floodlights, there'll be a crowd there, there'll be pressure and an expectation to win.

"So it in terms of making it more real and helping the players see the challenge that is ahead of them to try and get in the first team, it is perfect for that.

"They are still young and we accept that they are going to make mistakes and things won't be perfect, but if they show they can compete it is a great opportunity for them, to show that they can cope with the demands.

"They are used to playing others that are of the same age but on Tuesday night there'll definitely be senior pros playing and that is something they don't face every week. So they'll definitely learn a few things from that perspective.

"We are trying to develop a winning mentality with our lads and every game is important and knowing how to win is important. But certainly with this it is more about the result, but still we want them to put in a good performance.

"It is the perfect combination, the challenge is there for them to go out and impress."

Fans going to see the young Rovers in action against Fleetwood this evening can pay on the night at the Highbury Stadium, prices are £20 for Adults, £10 for Seniors and £5 for Under-16s.

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