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Rothwell: The story so far

Joe's road to Rovers has been a tale of ups and downs...

23 June 2018

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"I can't wait to see what the future holds," Joe Rothwell said upon arriving at Ewood Park on Friday but, for our newest recruit, the road to Rovers hasn't always been a straightforward one.

Born in Manchester in January 1995, Rothwell's love for football blossomed quickly. His life as a footballer began as a winger, and a very promising one at that.

Spotted by Manchester United as a youngster, he joined his local club at just six years of age and was soon converted to a more central role.

An assertive performer at the heart of the midfield, Rothwell's rise through the ranks at club level - which included a first professional contract in 2013 - was mirrored on the international scene, where he was chosen to represent England's youth sides.

He would continue to play for his country at every level up to Under-20, but it was back in Manchester where he really caught the eye with his ability to drive past players and set up attacks.

A regular in United's Under-21 side thereafter, Rothwell was loaned out to Blackpool to gain some experience of first team football, but injury limited him to just three appearances and he returned early from his spell by the seaside.

Another loan followed, with Barnsley taking him on, but this time illness hampered the midfielder's progress. The youngster had to have his tonsils removed as a result and lost a significant amount of weight during his recovery.

Despite the second setback, Rothwell proved as determined a player off the pitch as he'd been on it and soon forced his way back into United's high-flying Under-21s on his return to Old Trafford.

Rothwell scored a crucial winner in the mini-derby against Manchester City in February 2016, as Warren Joyce's side went on to win the title, a display which did his chances of a senior call-up no harm.

Then first team coach Louis van Gaal had spoken about the need for players with technique, work rate and character and Rothwell fit the mould. Just a month later, he was named in the squad for United's Premier League clash against Watford.

Though he didn't feature in the game, Rothwell's hard work had been rewarded, as was the case at the end of the campaign when he was offered a new deal. 

Also on the table was an offer from League One side Oxford United and the prospect of regular first team football proved too tempting to turn down.

After joining the Us in July 2016, Rothwell made 45 appearances in all competitions during his first season at the Kassam Stadium, scoring twice, and quickly became a key part of the club's set-up with his box-to-box performances.

He went from strength to strength in 2017-18 and was soon on Rovers' radar, appearing a further 41 times and finding the net on six occasions.

With the ability to be both an industrious ball-winner and an intelligent creator, it's clear to see why the youngster fits in with Tony Mowbray's plans at Ewood Park.

Aged just 23, Rothwell has already had plenty of valuable experiences on his road to Rovers and will now hope to help the club carve a path back towards the top flight.

Ensure you don't miss a minute of Rothwell's first season as a Rover by purchasing a 2018-19 season ticket! Click here for more.

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