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Billy pleased with the progress

The Under-23s chief reflects on his first season in charge as well as the departures of Charley Doyle and Jack Evans

15 June 2020

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A first campaign in charge of the Development Squad is looked back on as a successful one for Under-23s chief Billy Barr.

With Damien Johnson moving up to be part of Tony Mowbray's first team coaching staff, the Development Squad managerial position was vacant for the beginning of the term.

Appointed in time for the trip to Leicester City back in August, Barr made the switch up from the Under-18s, and Rovers have certainly produced some impressive showings under his stewardship.

The team comfortably remained in Premier League 2 Division 1 for a second season running when the season was postponed, as well as reaching the last 16 of the Premier League Cup, to go alongside booking their place in the Final of the Lancashire Senior Cup for the second successive campaign.

“Personally I think it’s been a success," Barr reflected proudly.

"We’ve never had the same team for successive games, there’s always been pros playing down, or young lads playing up.

“I think the lads can be really proud of where we were in the league with a game in hand, and it was nice to get through to the Lancashire Senior Cup final, and to get through in the Premier League Cup.

“The European competition was a really good experience for everyone. I thought we did okay against what I would call league football in their respective countries.

“We lost both games late on really.

“From my point of view I’m really happy with the development of the group and hopefully that can continue next season.”

Rovers bid farewell to two Academy graduates earlier this month in the form of Charley Doyle and Jack Evans, who both suffered injury-hit campaigns.

The duo were told that they would not be retained by the club when their current contracts expire at the end of the month.

And Barr wishes the pair the very best of luck, having worked with them for a number of years.

“As young aspiring footballers it’s not you that does the work, it’s the parents that juggle trying to get the player to training on the night," he said.

“There will be a lot of family time they miss out along the way and it’s hard to commit, and it is hard, especially if you have more than one child.

“It’s easier with one, but the demands of Category One football are quite extreme. As you get older towards the Under-15s and Under-16s, you’re more or less giving up five days of your week to football.

“Jack and Charley have worked with a lot of people, affected a lot of people to get to this point, and it’s only a bump in the road, a crossroads that they have come to and they need to take a different direction.

“Both are more than capable of going in to other clubs and impressing.”

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