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Great to see young players progress

18 May 2016

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David Dunn hopes to see more Rovers youngsters follow in the footsteps of Connor Mahoney by breaking into the first team next season.

The 19-year-old attacker made his league debut towards the end of the 2015-16 campaign with starts away at Nottingham Forest and at home to Bristol City, much to the delight of Dunn.

Working alongside Damien Johnson in coaching the Under-21s, the former Rovers midfielder has enjoyed his time with the development squad since returning to the club back in February.

Dunn, as well as Johnson, know what it is like to break into the senior squad as young professionals at Ewood Park, and hopes the pair can play their part in helping many more Academy products step up and make the grade.

"I've really enjoyed being back" Dunn told Rovers PlayerHD. "I've really enjoyed working with Damien and the young lads.

"It has been a really good end of the season for the 21s as well. To get into those play-offs was a really good effort from everyone involved, but seeing the improvement in a player's development is probably the most satisfying. 

"Obviously Connor Mahoney made his long-awaited league debut the other week so it is good to see him step up and do reasonably well for the first team.

"But not just Connor, I think there's been a big improvement in quite a lot of them so credit to all the staff, Billy (Barr), Ian (Jones) and Eric (Kinder) who are doing a terrific job down at the Academy. It is always good for them to come up to us at the top at the Senior Training Centre.

"It is always important to bring your players through. That is what we pay a lot of money for the youth set up, to bring these players in.

"Even going back to me and Damien, and the likes of Damien Duff and Martin Taylor just to name a few, then in the latter years you've got Phil Jones who goes for big money, the list will continue.

"So it is important to try and bring those players on. However, having said that, we can't expect them to suddenly be the answer as with the demands of Championship football week in, week out it would be a really big ask.

"I think it is best if you don't push them too much, maybe dip them in and out, but I wouldn't like to think they are all ready to step up and play week in, week out in such a demanding league, I think that would be unfair on them as well. But they've done great.

"Me and Damien have a really good relationship, both working and personal. Between us two we've been there since forever it seems, we've come through and we know what it takes.

"We've not just seen it, we've actually felt it and tasted it and that is really important for us to try and give as much back to the lads and hopefully pull a couple more out of the hat."

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