Five of Rovers’ brightest talents have signed their first professional deals with the club ahead of the 2021-22 season.
Goalkeeper Aidan Dowling, defender Lenni Cirino, midfielder Jared Harlock and forwards Alex Baker and Zak Gilsenan have all put pen to paper at the club.
The quintet will now look on establishing themselves within the U23 set-up, although Dowling’s involvement is likely to depend on either Jordan Eastham or Antonis Stergiakis heading out on loan.
We’ve taken a brief look at each player ahead of an important couple of years in their careers…
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Aidan DowlingEmbed from Getty Images
The goalkeeper featured in twelve matches for the U18s across the 2020-21 season, keeping four clean sheets, as well as being an unused substitute for the U23s on six occasions.
Lenni CirinoEmbed from Getty Images
It has been an action-packed season for Cirino, making 13 appearances for the U18s, before becoming a regular for the U23s in the second half of the season, featuring 15 times for Billy Barr’s side.
Still only aged 18, Cirino is now the first choice left-back for the U23s – with Lewis Thompson also leaving the club this summer – and he still has plenty of time left to develop,
Cirino is a pacy, direct full-back who has shown his ability to both attack and defend in recent weeks, and given consistent game time, a bright future is ahead.
Jared HarlockEmbed from Getty Images
It has been a hectic season of football for Harlock as well, making 30 appearances across the U18 and U23 levels combined.
A player perhaps noticed more for his technical ability rather than his physical attributes, he is calm on the ball, has an eye for a pass and he has shown similarities to academy graduate John Buckley.
The path to the first team is there to see with Harlock, and with his likeness to the aforementioned Buckley, he could follow a similar path into the senior set-up.
Check out our chat with Jared Harlock at the following link, as the midfielder gave us an insight into life in the Rovers Academy: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L55K3N_G_p4
Alex BakerEmbed from Getty Images
It has been an impressive season for Alex Baker in his first full campaign at U18 level, scoring six and assisting eight in his 17 appearances.
His form has seen him feature five times for the U23s as well in the PL2, showing the trust the academy staff have in the talented young forward.
Zak GilsenanEmbed from Getty Images
Once dubbed the ‘Irish Messi’, Zak Gilsenan has been on the books of Liverpool and Barcelona in recent years, with a bright future ahead.
With eight goals and three assists in twenty appearances for the U18s, and two appearances at U23 level, it has been an impressive season for the Australian international.
His ability to drive forward with the ball makes him a threat to opposition defences, and his development is one to keep an eye on in the coming years.
Follow our account dedicated to Rovers’ U23 and U18 sides. All the latest updates, news and match content will be posted there before anywhere else so make sure you’re following: @academy_rovers.
All Images Belong to Getty Images