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Preview: Rovers Under-23s v Derby County Under-23s

A look ahead to Monday's league encounter against Darren Wassall's Rams

2 February 2020

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Rovers Under-23s return to Premier League 2 action on Monday afternoon with Derby County's Under-23s the visitors to the Rovers Academy.

Having not been part of the first team squad at Middlesbrough at the weekend, midfield duo Jacob Davenport and John Buckley are expected to link up with Billy Barr's side, just as they did in the impressive Lancashire FA Senior Cup triumph over Preston North End last week.

The Development Squad will be boosted by Ben Paton's return having missed the local trip to PNE due to concussion.

It remains to be seen whether Brad Lyons has fully recovered from a slight hamstring strain, whilst there may be outings for Harry Chapman and Dominic Samuel, who both weren't involved with the first team on Saturday.

Jack Evans remains a definite absentee and it's unlikely that Louie Annesley will be risked as he steps up his return from injury.

With the first team in action on Tuesday night in the Emirates FA Cup replay against Northampton Town, it remains to be seen whether some of the Rams' young stars will be a part of Phillip Cocu's squad against the Cobblers.

If everyone is available for Darren Wassall's youngsters, the man to watch for the visitors will be Morgan Whittaker, who has six goals in his seven Under-23s outings so far this term.

The Rams also come into the game in decent form; undefeated in their last six outings in all competitions and currently sitting in third place in the Premier League 2 Division 1 table.

Speaking ahead of the encounter, Barr's challenged his youngsters to make February a month to remember, with the contest against the Rams being the first of five games in all competitions.

“It’s a massive month," Barr admitted.

“We could really secure our status within the league which would be an unbelievable achievement with such a mixed bag this season.

“I don’t think we’ve ever put the same team out twice. We’re looking forward to it.

“I think it’s more for the players, the achievement of doing it against the odds. The teams we compete against all invest, all spend money every season, all have higher wage bills than ourselves.

“If we can do that with such a small core group then I think it would be a great achievement for them to do that," he added.

“It could be an opportunity for the gaffer to drop people back in. If not then we’ll go about our work.

“We've done out work over the weekend for Derby and whether it’s a young team or a more experienced one, if we can replicate the way we played (against Preston) then we’ll be more than pleased.”

Kick-off at Brockhall is at 12pm with admission free for all supporters.

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