The new intake of young Rovers hopefuls have put pen-to-paper on their two-year scholarship contracts at the Academy.
At the annual end-of-season Induction Evening, the signed-up scholars were given a tour of the fantastic living and training facilities at Brockhall, before listening to presentations about what will be expected off them both on and off the pitch, in terms of their football and education programmes.
Rovers’ Head of Academy Eric Kinder believes the new recruits will have some big boots to fill, after this season’s Under-18s reached the elite stage of the play-offs as well as the semi-finals of the FA Youth Cup.
However, he hopes they should be encouraged by the fact that 10 second year scholars have now signed professional contracts with the club and will start next season with Damien Johnson’s Under-21s.
He said: “I’ve always said it’s the best night of the year, because everybody is a little bit naive and it’s a brand new world and they all want to be England internationals within five years and it’s great to see their faces, but we do try to paint a picture of how difficult it’s going to be.
“Parents are obviously very proud of their sons that they’ve come through those schoolboy years and they’re probably quite relieved that they don’t have to cart their kids all over the country – that’s our job now for the next two years.
“I’ve always said there’s a lot of downside to working in youth football, because you’re usually releasing players or saying no to players and putting an end to their dreams, but the Induction Evening is a really nice night, so it’s important that you make the most of it.
“They’ve got a hard act to follow, because they’re coming up behind this group that’s moved on and have done ever so well, but hopefully they’ll see that there is a clear pathway through for youth players at this club and hopefully they’ll take advantage of that when they get the chances.”
The incoming scholars are Ben Blackburn, John Buckley, Daniel Butterworth, Mathew Campbell, Hayden Carter, Jack Evans, Andrew Jackson, Frank Jones, Bradley Lynch, Te-Jay Robinson, Lewis Thompson and Callum Wright.