After the sale of David Raya back in the summer of 2019, much was made about the direction Rovers would take in their goalkeeping department.
Tony Mowbray reportedly missed out on a couple of foreign targets, and as the season grew nearer, in came Christian Walton on loan from Brighton & Hove Albion.
Despite a positive couple of seasons at Wigan Athletic and some positive displays, it was a mixed season for Walton, and his return back to the Seagulls left the number one role vacant for another summer window.
In addition, second-choice ‘keeper Jayson Leutwiler – who had been the backup since the 2017-18 promotion winning season – departed, leaving Rovers with at least two spaces to consider.
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This time, Rovers’ foray into the European market was a successful one, with the lesser known Thomas Kaminski signing from Gent for a fee rumoured to be nothing more than half a million pounds.
Out-of-favour Middlesbrough ‘keeper Aynsley Pears followed him through the door, before the goalkeeping ranks were boosted by a third signing, with Antonis Stergiakis coming through the door before the European window closed – with the Greek linking up with the U23s.
Not many, if any, fans could have expected the impact that Kaminski has had on the team. A confident keeper who is calm with the ball at his feet, a good shot-stopper and a commanding figure, the minimal outlay from Rovers’ side already looks a bargain – and is likely to for years to come.
Although Pears is yet to set the world alight, he has shown on occasions that he has the ability to be a decent backup option for the club given a run of fixtures in the side.
But, it’s the young set of ‘keepers at the club that excites me. Stergiakis is a raw talent who needs work, but has every attribute to succeed in the future, whilst Joe Hilton – who has headed north of the border to join Ross County on loan – is a talented stopper and has the chance to prove himself on his temporary spell in Scotland.
Add Jordan Eastham to the mix, and it really is pleasing to see the talent this club possesses between the sticks. The 19-year-old looks to be set for a promising career, and after being involved with the first team on occasions last season, he could be the perfect player to step into the first-team fold in the coming years.
Rovers’ path to this talented group of youngsters hasn’t been easy, and although last season was a struggle with Walton coming on loan late on, it’s a promising time for the club in the goalkeeping department.