HARDENED experience may be underpinning Doncaster Rovers’ promotion drive, but the flower of youth could also play its part yet.
That is the verdict of Rovers boss Darren Ferguson and while the contributions from the club’s fresh-faced talents is hardly time to rejoice in a new crop of ‘Fergie’s Fledglings’, the signs are promising.
Cup competitions have seen Ferguson blood the likes of rookie forwards Liam Mandeville, Alfie Beestin and Will Longbottom and while it is pushing it to expect them to make the great leap to first-team regulars in the short to medium-term, they are doing their cause no harm, according to their manager.
He said: “The age thing has never bothered me as a manager. But certainly Liam has answered a few questions this week, which was really important and I was pleased for him.
“Alfie Beestin also has, as well as young Longbottom and we feel those three young ones, in that area of the pitch, can come in and have some sort of impact.
“The question would be whether they can do it on some sort of a consistent basis, as with young people, you can get inconsistencies.”
Rovers make the long trip to an Exeter side yet to win on home soil in the league this season, although Ferguson is rather more concerned with his side getting their own house in order defensively after conceding eight goals in their past four league games.
While Rovers’ league position is still strong, Ferguson is conscious of striking the right levels of consistency at both ends of the pitch in a busy run-in through to the end of the year.
Ferguson, who says that key striker Andy Williams could be fit for the trip to Stevenage on December 3, added: “It is important to be consistent and the next couple of months are important in terms of being in touch and keeping in the top three if we can.
“The lads who have played in the first third of the season should take a lot of credit for carrying us forward. We need to be as consistent as we can and keep improving,”
Andy Butler is fit enough to feature, along with Craig Alcock and Frazer Richardson. Gary McSheffrey, Luke McCullough, Aaron Taylor-Sinclair and Mitchell Lund are still out.
Last six games: Exeter WWLWLD; Doncaster WWLDLW.
Referee: C Breakspear (Surrey).
Last time: Exeter 2 Doncaster 1, December 4, 2004; FA Cup.