Peter Kennedy rounds up the academy-related news from Rovers’ retained list…
A number of U23 regulars have had their registration extended, with Dan Pike’s extension arguably the best news of the lot. The 19-year-old has cemented his place in Billy Barr’s side this term after being a key player in the FA Youth Cup side that reached the semi-finals last season, as well as being part of the senior matchday squad on three occasions.
Also in the aforementioned Youth Cup side, Sam Burns, Jalil Saadi and Sam Durrant have all had their registration extended, as have defensive duo Louie Annesley – Gibraltar international – and Sam Barnes.
Meanwhile, five players have been offered their first professional deals this summer. Goalkeeper Aidan Dowling has been a regular for the U18s in between the sticks in the second half of the season, and he could become part of the U23s this season if either ‘keeper heads out on loan.
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Full-back Lenni Cirino, midfielder Jared Harlock and forwards Zak Gilsenan and Alex Baker have all spent part of the season with the U23s, and the quartet have been offered their first professional deals, with a view to securing a regular spot in Billy Barr’s side.
Defender Joe Ferguson and forward Brandon Lonsdale have both had injury hit seasons, leading to Rovers extending their scholarships into a third year for 2021-22.
In terms of outgoings, three scholars will leave the club this summer. Defenders James Connolly – who had an injury hit year last season – and George Wyatt, plus midfielder Ben Pleavin have all departed, wishing them the best for their careers.
After seven years at the club, spending time as captain of the U23s side, Stefan Mols will leave Rovers in the summer with a large sense of what could have been after making his debut in 2017. That sentiment also resonates with the departures of defensive duo Lewis Thompson and Joe Grayson, who have both been involved with the senior side in pre-season camps, but they couldn’t make the step-up.
Also departing are midfielders Ben Paton, Brad Lyons and Tom White, the latter two having spent time out on loan in the fourth and fifth tiers of England respectively this season.
We’d like to wish those departing all the best in their careers.
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