Rovers match day magazine, RTID, caught up with in form James Husband to hear about his exciting arrival onto the first team scene.
James, a Rovers Youth Team graduate who has made 23 appearances for the club this season, has become a vital player for Rovers at only 19 years of age, scoring his first goals for the club and adapting to life playing League One football.
It’s been a pretty impressive first proper season. How do you feel it’s gone for you personally?
It’s gone really well. I didn’t expect to play this many games. Looking at the start of the season, I was just expecting to get the odd game here and there but I’ve actually played quite a big part and quite a few games and I’m enjoying every minute of it.
You came through the academy here predominantly as a left back but have been utilised as left winger more this season. Do you feel like you’re getting used to the change in roles now?
Yes, the first couple of games I found it slightly difficult to familiarise myself with the positions you have to be in at certain times, but as soon as you figure all that out you’re alright. I think I’ve settled in really well and I’ve linked up with Tommy Spurr which has been good for the team.
Have you had to work on parts of your game now you’ve been playing in more of an attacking role and do you think that is somewhere you can see yourself playing permanently?
I think it was part of my game before I have even played there. I prefer to be an attacking player in either role but especially when we’re on the ball. I like to get in attacking positions, so it wasn’t too hard to adjust to. I’m not really sure what will happen as I’m still young so it depends how I develop in certain positions. There is plenty of time to see what happens in that respect.
What was it like scoring the first goal of your professional career at Crawley?
To be honest with you it was a blur and I can barely remember it now. I remember the cross coming from the right and I just rifled it. I probably wasn’t sure what I was doing and ended up finding the net somehow, but it was a great feeling my first goal in professional football. You can’t really beat that feeling!
You’ve scored three vital goals now but all away from home. What would it be like scoring at the Keepmoat in front of the home fans?
It would be really nice. As you say, the three goals I’ve scored have been away from home but the support was there as well when we were away, so it was nice to score in front our supporters and still very special. Anything I can do to help us win is a bonus really.
It’s been a hugely successful season for Rovers this year but nothing is guaranteed with games still to play. What is the atmosphere like in the changing room?
Well there are not many games to go now and we’re all buzzing really as you can probably hear when you’re around the place. Obviously, we have high expectations but it’s a great atmosphere to be around as we’re just a good group of mates really. You couldn’t ask for much more and that should serve us well from here onwards.
You’ve seen two managers at the club this season now. Is there a difference in the way the managers have operated?
No, I don’t think there is much of a difference; Brian does things a little differently to Dean. You can complicate football all you want but it’s the same game at the end of the day so the same principles apply really. It was a smooth transition and that is why we carried on doing well in the league after Brian took over.
What has it been like playing under Brian Flynn, who is obviously known for bringing through young players? What sort of things does he say to you and the other young players in the squad?
Well again, Brian simply says just go out and express yourself. He enjoys it when his players go out there and play with a smile on their face. That is what he has basically let me do so I’m enjoying myself at the moment and probably playing well as a result.
Have you had to alter your training and conditioning to cope with the rigours of first team football?
Yes slightly, although I don’t think it comes through training but more just getting used to playing regularly. I still get knocked over from time to time, and I’m one of the lighter players in the squad. I try and use the club gym as much as I can to build myself up but I personally feel it’s more about getting used to the physical side of the game and how to make yourself bigger and play stronger through experience.
Brian Flynn has said recently that this Doncaster Rovers side is one of the most difficult to beat in the division. What do you put that down to?
Togetherness, to be honest with you, as we are all gutted if we concede a goal. We have two of the biggest centre halves you’ll see in football as a base and then a fantastic goal keeper in Gary Woods. All season we have been very hard to beat, and we all know that promotion is going to depend on trying to do as much as we can to try and not concede and give anything away.
Last time you did an interview for RTID magazine you were part of a much smaller squad. With all the new signings has it been a confidence boost that you have kept your place?
Yes I think it has been really. I’m feeling as confident as I have done all season and possibly even more now, so I just have to go out there and do as much as I can, as often as I can and hopefully it will be good enough to keep my place.
You have fitted in to the team very comfortably going by your performances so far. Have there been any players in particular who have been a big help to you in making the transition into the first team?
I couldn’t pinpoint anyone in particular; every single person helps me because I’m a young lad. I’m still learning all the time - everyday in training and even inside in the cafeteria they are helping out, so it’s not really one person but the whole group that helps with that.
You might say you’re ahead of schedule in terms of your career plans, being only 19 and playing regular first team football. What would you like to achieve with Doncaster Rovers in the next couple of years?
First of all I want to get promoted, so we are playing at the highest possible level next season. I can’t really comment further than that because we are not there yet and still need to focus on the task at hand. I wouldn’t really want to tempt fate at all so I had better leave that question alone for now.
You and five other youth team members signed pro deals at the start of the season. Do you expect to see more youth team players make the breakthrough soon?
I think it’s starting to creep into English football a lot more these days. Young players are getting a chance because for financial reasons clubs can’t fill bench places and things like that. There is a good set of youth team lads here and if they are good enough and continue to develop then I’m sure they will get their chance.