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Wellens: I’m really proud of the young players

25 August 2021

Richie Wellens spoke to the media after a Rovers side full of youngsters battled to a 2-0 defeat against a very experienced Stoke City.

19-year-old Ben Blythe was among those who played 90 minutes while Ethan Harrison came off the bench to become the third youngest player to make his debut for Rovers at 16 years and 121 days and the manager said he saw the beginnings of a bright future for the club.

On the youngsters:

“I thought our young kids were outstanding. If you look at the average age of that squad with Ben Blythe, Branden Horton, Charlie Seaman who came on, Aidan Barlow, Matt Smith – there are so many positives, so many really good performances.

“I’ve come out of it feeling quite positive – I hate losing but there were some really good performances from the young lads. They can take a lot of confidence.

“I enjoyed watching my team on Tuesday. The areas we got in, and the style of football to get in those areas was really good. We need more penetrative runs and more first contacts in their box, but other than that, I’m really proud of the young players”

 

On his vision for Rovers:

“My remit is to get the identity of this football club back and I watched a team Tuesday night that were well coached who have a clear idea of what they want to do. I will continue to make decisions which benefit the long-term future of this club.

“I’m making decisions to help the club get it’s identity back and get long-term, sustainable success.

“I work for a club, a chairman and a club that make me feel really comfortable. We know where we want to go. We know exactly where we are and we know where we want to get to. That’s a massive positive.

“I’ve seen a team of players that were well organised, and a group of players who played with freedom and expressed themselves. In the long-term, we’ll grow from this.”

 

On Stoke City:

“In the big moments Stoke showed their quality. But if you take both boxes out of it – so in the middle of the pitch – we were better than them. Our rotations were good, we passed the ball smoothly.

“It’s just in both boxes – they were physical in the defensive box and they’ve got real quality in the top end of the pitch."

 

On Ethan Harrison's debut:

“We wanted to give him an opportunity. We knew we didn’t have a striker starting and we always had the option of bringing one off the bench.

“He’s one that Gary McSheffrey has put forward. He was a bit in awe of the place when he first got here but I said to him go and play with a smile on your face and enjoy it.

“I think he enjoyed the occasion and hopefully we can integrate more local boys into the squad going forward.”

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