Youth Team Manager Paul Stancliffe spoke to Rovers Player about his U18s side who he says are 'exceeding expectations’ this season.
“They have done very well,” he said.
“We’ve had a good half of a season and almost finished undefeated but for the loss in the game against Hartlepool before the Christmas break.
“In all honesty I think it’s fair to say that the players are exceeding expectations.”
One thing that Paul puts the success they have down to is their pre-season preparation in Sweden.
“We think it’s [the trip to Sweden] vital, It’s part of our pre-season preparations; we get five games in a week so the boys get their fitness from it but it’s just as important that they get to bond and get to know each other too.
“It’s just after we take the new intake of player in, so we [coaching staff] get to know them a bit better -as part of a team building exercise it’s vital.
“It gives us an extra insight into the lads that we are going to be working with; I think we knew then in Sweden that we had got a good team.”
The past couple of seasons have seen members of the Youth Team being given their chance to play and train in a first team environment which is something Paul says is a massive boost to the lads.
“We’ve gone through seasons in the past where players haven’t quite pushed on the way we hoped they would.
“Dean [Saunders] was quite happy to use them to help them to gain that experience, not just the playing side but also to know what it’s like to be a professional so hopefully that will inspire them.
“It’s a boost for everyone, not just the boys in the building, but all the way from the under 16s down. The players and their parents can see that Doncaster Rovers are willing to use the young players that they have developed which is a good selling point when we are looking to bring lads in.
“The Youth department is not just about the Youth team, it’s about the Academy which goes all the way to the Development Centre which Ben Mawson is running. We’re bringing boys in from the ages of six and seven; the younger we can get them and give them the coaching they require the better they progress.
“It’s not just about what me and Paul [Wilson] do with the apprentices here it’s the coaches below us as well that work hard to bring the boys through.
“Paul and I have been here a few years now and when we first arrived there wasn’t a Youth set-up as such and we found that the young players from the Sunday League Clubs were going to other clubs.
“Now they are looking towards us which is a big factor in the progression we are making.”