Ciaran Toner talks to www.themillers.co.uk...
A side containing no fewer than seven first year scholars battled their way to a precious point in the Central League as Ciaran Toner took charge of the reserves at Doncaster Rovers on Tuesday afternoon.
With injuries limiting first team involvement to include just four members of the senior squad; Jerry Yates, Laurence Bilboe, Alex Bray and Akeem Hinds, Toner selected a youthful outfit to lock horns with a Doncaster side consisting mainly of professionals, as the Millers looked to maintain their spot at the summit of the Central League table.
After Tyrone Lewthwaite’s strike saw the youngsters battle their way back to a 1-1 draw at Cantley Park, Toner was quick to praise the efforts of a young side on Tuesday afternoon.
“Considering that we had so many first year scholars in the game, we're really pleased with a point against a Doncaster team with much more experience,” he told www.themillers.co.uk.
“We had four of those lads starting with three coming off the bench and they were playing against a side that bar one or two, were professionals.
“I know from speaking to Grant McCann after the game that he had assumed that we had turned out a side mainly made up of at least first year pros.
“The fact that we've had lads that young go out and weather a storm and then put out a performance to get back into the game and come out with a point is a great testament to where we're at.”
Northern Ireland youth international Lewthwaite has been in fine form in front of goal for the Millers’ second string this season and found himself amongst the goals again on Tuesday. Toner, who works closely with him in the Academy setup was pleased to see him on target, but insists there is plenty of development still to come should he want a place in Paul Warne’s senior squad on a regular basis.
“It was nice for him to get on the scoresheet. I thought he played reasonably well but the thing is we always want to strive to make people better, certainly at this football club,” he continued.
“I feel that Tyrone has a lot more to come providing that he maintains the attitude and commitment that we value here to be able to make himself the best that he can be.
“Yes, I'm encouraged that he has shown good signs but there is a lot of work to do if he wants to take his game to the next level because it is a big jump from reserves into a first team.
“We know that there is a lot of work to do and we just want to try and push him and everybody else on as best as we can do.”
Meanwhile, Yates, who recently returned from a loan spell at Carlisle and featured as a substitute in the first team game at Ipswich last weekend, came in for praise for another assured display in the reserves, earning particular kudos for his application alongside the club's younger players.
“It's quite obvious to me that the loan spell that Jerry has had has been of real benefit to him,” Toner added.
“I thought he looked really sharp ad his attitude was as good as we always expect from Jerry, because he has a fantastic way of applying himself.
“He showed some real flashes of quality that you would see in first team football in the Championship. He performed really well considering that he had a lot of inexperience around him and he epitomised everything that we want at the football club.”