Clarke on the season ahead
New Assistant Manager Darrell Clarke believes that the more experienced players are key to ensuring the development of the upcoming Bristol Rovers stars.
Clarke, who became John Ward’s number two on the coaching staff last month, has praised the experienced players who are helping the youngsters along. He said: “We’ve got good experienced players at this football club and the way they’ve pulled the young lads through this pre-season has been great.
“It has been the youngsters hardest pre-season to date and they’re there to use their experience and help the boys along and they did very well against Clevedon on Tuesday night so we’re pleased with the way pre-season has gone.”
He added: “Clevedon was a good test for the young lads, they’re a big physical side and they’ve got to get used to that part of the game and they adapted to it very well.
“Those sort of games bring on the young lads a lot and obviously with the experienced players we’ve got in the side they can help the young boys along.
“Can they play in front of 6,000 people on a consistent basis? They’re not going to do it straight away, but that’s what young players are, they’re a little bit inconsistent and we’re here to help them and improve
them as players and give them bright futures.”
Rovers have been forced to cancel their penultimate pre-season friendly with Salisbury tomorrow because of current injury concerns, but the former Hartlepool and Mansfield midfielder is staying positive about the casualties.
He said: “With the injuries we’ve got, there’s no point in having an extra game when there is a chance of picking up more, especially when we’ve got a difficult test against Reading on Sunday. I think that extra game would take its toll on the squad.
“We’re disappointed with the injuries we’ve picked up in pre-season, but that’s always the case and it does give other players a chance to get a place.
“In football, opportunities don’t come around very often and I’m sure the one or two lads who do get that opportunity will grasp it with both hands.”
The 35-year-old does believe that the signing on John-Joe O’toole has had a very positive impact on the squad: “The lads are pleased he’s back in and he did very well when he was on loan here last season.
“The Manager has been patient trying to get his main target for the summer activity and we’ve finally got our man, which is great news and a great boost for the club.
“He knows most of the boys and I’m sure he’ll fit straight in because he’s already had a decent pre- season at Colchester so his fitness levels are going to be up there. It’s just a case of bedding him in and we’ve got 10 days to do that before the big kick off.”
The Pirates welcome Reading to the Memorial Stadium on Sunday for their final pre-season clash before they start their league campaign against Exeter next Saturday and Clarke knows it will be a tough test. He said: “It’ll be difficult, Nigel Adkins will have them playing good football and I think they’ll be there at the top of the Championship this year.
“It’s going to be another difficult test but playing against better players, two leagues above yourself, are the games you want to play in as a player so it will be the perfect game to prepare for the start of the new
“I’ve settled in really well and I’m enjoying it, it seems to have flown by already so now I’m looking forward to the real stuff next Saturday.”