ACCORDING TO manager Grant McCann Doncaster Rovers’ 2019-20 season started in the immediate aftermath of Friday’s cruel play-off denouement at Charlton Athletic.
Casting aside that penalty shoot-out disappointment with a telling and succinct message, McCann promised that Rovers would come back stronger in the next campaign and were down the line with several signings.
His tone suggested that this was not just idle talk with his intent to press ahead with the business of planning for next season crystal clear.
The Rovers chief has been proactive this week in finalising his retained list, with deals offered to the experienced out-of-contract trio of Tommy Rowe, Andy Butler and Danny Andrew.
The club had also confirmed that Marko Marosi, Alfie Beestin, Tyler Garratt, Luke McCullough and Liam Mandeville will leave.
Marosi has subsequently signed a deal with League One rivals Coventry City after rejecting fresh terms at the Keepmoat Stadium to link up with the Midlands club.
McCann has also made Will Longbottom and Alex Kiwomya available for transfer as he streamlines his squad and makes space for new arrivals ahead of what he hopes – and expects – to be a concerted push for the top six and beyond next season.
Sharing McCann’s optimism about Rovers’ aims is Butler, one of those players whose future is currently up in the air.
The 35-year-old defender gave the impression of there being unfinished business in the aftermath of the club’s season’s finale at The Valley and while he reportedly has rival interest from elsewhere you sense it would take something truly head-turning for him to leave his hometown club.
On the challenge ahead for Rovers, he said: “There is no point in standing still and thinking that is all it will be. We have got to progress and get better.
“We have seen what it takes to get up there and we are not far off it, we are really not.
“I was immensely proud to be a big part of Doncaster Rovers. Penalties are a lottery, but we will just brush it off and start again.
“Some might not be here next year, but what a squad we have got already and if we add a few more additions to it, why not go for the top two? It is not that far away.
“On our day we can beat anyone. We lost to Luton but beat them at home, and we drew to Barnsley twice and should have won and we have been close against the rest of the play-off teams.”
As for his future, the Doncaster-born player, who featured 45 times for the club in 2018-19, commented: “I would like to be (part of it), yes. “It is a club close to my heart and door. We will see and have a chat and see what happens.”
Meanwhile, Coventry manager Mark Robins has revealed his delight at capturing Marosi, who will officially join on a three-year deal when his Rovers’ contract expires at the end of June.
On Marosi, who made 42 appearances for Rovers last term, Robins said: “We are pleased to announce that Marko has agreed to join the club, signing a three-year deal.
“Marko was a key part of Doncaster’s side that reached the play-off semi-final, and he will be an important part of our squad as we look to push on next season.
“He is a goalkeeper with a strong presence in the box, a good shot-stopper and can also distribute the ball well, which is vital for the way that we want to play, and we look forward to working with him.”
Rovers also confirmed that youngsters Cameron Baldock-Smith, Cameron Barnett, Cameron Foulkes and Declan Ogley have left the club following the completion of their scholarships.
AJ Greaves, Branden Horton, Myron Gibbons and Rieves Boocock will start their first professional deals.