The ‘likeable’ factor that makes this Rovers side easy to get behind

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Since Saturday’s impressive victory at Stoke, I’ve been trying to find a way to put into words my feelings on the current side.

The word ‘likeable’ has cropped up often on social media this season, and there aren’t many other words that would describe this team better.

The pre-season expectations of this side had us the other end of the table, from both pundits and supporters, and the youthful age of the team was noted as a weakness.

However, that youthfulness has played a key role in the likeable factor of the side.

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This is a young team that is full of academy products to begin with. Graduates Ryan Nyambe, Darragh Lenihan, Scott Wharton, Lewis Travis and John Buckley are all almost guaranteed starters when fit, and that is a factor to be proud of regardless of any results.

The academy is one of the late, great Jack Walker’s greatest legacies at the club, and seeing this carried on twenty years after his passing is something we can all be proud of.

And the academy products are just one of many reasons to enjoy watching this side. The team spirit has been absolutely crucial to our ambitions – and achievements – this season.

It isn’t just the youth that we have produced that have played their part, and it is easy forget that the likes of Tyrhys Dolan, Ben Brereton Diaz and Harry Pickering all have time on their side before they reach their pride.

Rovers have the second lowest average squad age in the Championship whilst still possessing experienced players in their ranks.

Another key component of the side is the way they battle. Each and every single player comes on and plays for the badge on the front of the shirt, and not the name on the back of it.

They have had their downs, and will – without doubt – have some more as the season progresses, but their spirit to bounce back well from the 7-0 thrashing by Fulham encapsulates exactly what this Rovers side is all about.

These players care about the club, they care about the fans who spend their hard-earned money travelling around the country and they care about each other. All three of these factors help contribute to the team’s position so far, and they will have the same effect as we move into the Christmas run.

The aforementioned reasons, alongside may others, show why the fans find themselves enjoying this side more than any other in a long time, and long may it continue.

A young squad will bring some negatives during the course of a season, but these downsides will all be worth it as the team learn from their mistakes and become more rounded players.

Whatever happens from now until the end of the season, let’s continue to back this young side and see where we end up.

Who knows what the Championship has in store? It is a league like no other, after all…

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