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Development Squad

Johnson hails adaptable youngsters

Rovers' Under-23s overcame several changes and injuries to beat Stoke on Monday night

31 October 2017

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Rovers' Under-23s boss Damien Johnson praised his players for coming through a difficult game against Stoke with a positive result on Monday evening.

The young Blues won 2-0 in Leyland, courtesy of goals from Joe Rankin-Costello and Charley Doyle, a result which keeps the pressure on league leaders Middlesbrough.

Speaking after the game, Johnson was naturally delighted with his side, and reserved special praise for goalscorer Doyle.

"Overall, we're pleased," he said. "We came into the game with a lot of changes in terms of personnel because of suspensions, injuries and having one eye on the FA Youth Cup.

"It was always going to be a good test. Stoke are always a well-drilled side who make it quite physical, so I thought we competed well and played well in patches.

"I don't think we were at our best, but we created some good openings. We got in a couple of times, which is pleasing, but the injuries distrupted us a bit. 

"It was a case of being patient, getting on the ball and moving it quickly. We did it enough to get us the goals and the win. Ultimately, that was pleasing.

"Charley has been teriffic this year, he came back in really good shape and with a good attitude to push on and get into the team. To be fair to him, he's done that.

"We know he's got that versatility to slot in there, so he did really well and we're pleased with him. He's got good energy and good legs.

"He timed his run really well for the goal, it was like an attacking midfielder's run, plus a composed finish. We're pleased with him.

"Charley certainly showed tonight that he can adapt and do a job for us in central midfield."

The victory was somewhat overshadowed by injuries to Stefan Mols and Rankin-Costello, however.

"Obviously, Stef's looks like quite a bad one," Johnson added. "He's gone to hospital so we're waiting on the results of the x-ray. It's his shin, and it wasn't the best challenge.

"Stef's been teriffic and he's a great kid so we'll hope for good news. He's in good hands, so we'll look after him.

"Joe came off with what is probably a groin strain. The games are coming thick and fast but we'll asssess him and go from there."

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