Established thanks to the work of the late, great Jack Walker, the Academy set-up at Brockhall has produced a considerable number of talents who have gone on to represent the first team.
Academy products Damien Duff and David Dunn became important members in the senior side during the early years of the 21st century, whilst the current first team contains graduates such as Darragh Lenihan and Lewis Travis.
One of the most recent talents to come through the set-up down at Brockhall is John Buckley, who signed a new deal with the club on Monday, penning a contract through to the summer of 2024.
Although not a starter in the first-team, Buckley has become a regular part of Tony Mowbray’s matchday squad, being only one of two players (the other being Tyrhys Dolan) to feature in the squad for each fixture.
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The fact that Rovers continue to bring through these talents is testament to the work that Stuart Jones and the rest of his staff down at Brockhall do on a day to day basis, and it is something that we, as fans, should celebrate.
Four academy graduates were part of the side that fell to defeat against Preston at the weekend, and that would have undoubtedly been more had Scott Wharton and Joe Rankin-Costello been available.
There have been ten players who have come through the academy to feature in a competitive first-team fixture this season (Ryan Nyambe, Darragh Lenihan, Scott Wharton, John Buckley, Joe Rankin-Costello, Lewis Travis, Luke Brennan, Danny Butterworth, Hayden Carter and Andrew Fisher), and we may see that figure rise over the coming months.
As time goes on without supporters in the stadiums, sides are likely to become more reliant on their academies as transfer funds are restricted, and Rovers are in a prime position to capitalise on this situation.Embed from Getty Images
The current U23s are involved in a title battle in the Premier League 2 Table, competing against the academies of giants of the English game such as Manchester United and Liverpool.
Connor McBride has impressed since arriving on a free transfer from Celtic, whilst right-back Daniel Pike has been involved with the first-team on a couple of occasions and is set for a bright future with the club.
Billy Barr’s side is full of talented players – most of whom he has worked with at younger level – and I can’t recommend watching them play when the opportunity arises.
The academy is one of Jack Walker’s greatest legacies at Rovers, and it is one we must make the most of in the coming years.
Follow our Twitter account dedicated to the Academy: @academy_rovers
We are hosting a special live stream on Tuesday 27 July to raise some much needed funds for our charity partner 'Sporting Minds UK', who provide much needed mental health support for sportspeople.
There are plenty of prizes up for grabs, including a signed pair of boots from Elliott Bennett and signed shirts from John Buckley and Joe Rothwell.
To donate, please visit rcdonate.com and give whatever you can to help support this wonderful cause. Thank you.