RTID, Rovers matchday magazine caught up with loan signing, John Lundstram ahead of the game at Bournemouth.
John, who is the England U19 captain, joined Rovers on an initial one month loan deal but has made the centre midfield position his own with some great displays
John, you’re only 18. Can you tell us a bit about how you got started in football?
It all started when I was 7 years old when I started playing for my local side, Springwood. I’d only played a couple of tournament games when I was scouted by Everton so I started playing for them from the age of 7.
What was it like to be picked for your local side, Everton?
There is nothing more that you could want. When I was growing up all I wanted to do was play football - I was probably never seen without a football.
Are your family blues or are they reds?
Half and half really, so there is a bit of rivalry throughout the family especially when I play against a Liverpool side.
What was it like growing up in the Everton Academy?
It was great with the youngsters. It’s very family-based and warm and welcoming. I have had some great coaches too that have helped me over the years. I was given great support and advice throughout my formative years there that made it a pleasure to put the Blue shirt on.
John Doolan, who used to play here, went to Everton’s academy. Is he still there?
Yes, John is still there. I had a talk with him before I came as he still knows a few faces around here and he said I would enjoy it. It is always good to get an insight into a club you are going to and he said that Rovers would look after me.
You’ve worked your way up through Everton. What is the highest position you’ve played there?
I’ve been in the U21s all season this season but I’ve been in the first team squads against Manchester United away at Old Trafford and a couple more but I haven’t quite made the bench yet. Now and again I do train with the first team but it’s all about experiences like travelling to Old Trafford.
As a young player who do you look up to and who influences you at Everton?
I would have to say both Leon Osman and Darron Gibson. They have been great with me and I want to emulate them.
You’ve moved to Doncaster now, what’s it been like moving from the U21s to the pressure of being at the top of league one?
It’s a brilliant opportunity for me to show people what I can do. First team football is a lot different to U21 football. It’s a lot faster, more physical and there’s a lot more at stake really. The crowds are more intense and noisier with more at stake for them too; you also have more media coverage and are under the media spotlight.
Brian put you straight into the team what has that been like?
It was brilliant with the first two games both being decent results. We had a knock back recently but it’s all about picking yourself up again.
What have Brian and Rob been like with you? Have they given you lots of support?
The skipper and the gaffer have been brilliant. I think football is all about confidence. If you haven’t got that, I don’t think you can do much. They’ve encouraged and helped me a lot. They will add to my knowledge and help me build my career.
You’re also part of the England set up. That must be an honour for you and your family to be out there with the three lions on your chest, especially as you have been captain too.
Yes, it’s a very, very big honour for me. I never thought I would play for England but I love going away with them. I’ve been captain now and again and that’s been great. There is no greater honour than leading your national side out as I did here at the Keepmoat.
You’re on a one month loan with Rovers. Would you like to extend this and stay to the end of the season?
I’d love to stay. We’re pushing for promotion into the Championship and you don’t get better experience than that so if the opportunity comes I would love it.
One of our players, Chris Brown, came in on loan from Premier League, Sunderland, and went on to play in the Premier League so it can be quite a big spring board.
Yes, you get watched a lot more while you are playing for a first team so if it does push me on that will be brilliant.
How do Everton monitor what you’re doing here?
My U21s manager came to watch my first game, my coaches ring me after each game to see how I’ve done and I’m sure the gaffer gives reports back as well.
How have settled into living in lodgings? Does it seem strange to be away from home?
I’m away for long periods with England so I’m used to staying in hotels during that time. I do get to go home when I have a day off so it’s not too bad.