Date:Monday August 1 2011
The pre season campaign is now all over and Rovers get set for their opening Championship game of the season on Saturday at Brighton and Hove Albion.
We look back at pre season and see just how it has set Rovers up for what looks a very tough season ahead.
Pre season can be looked back on as 'who is he?` as a number of trialists have come in and out of the club since the players returned for pre season training.
Rovers also welcomed a number of new signings to the club over the summer with Tommy Spurr - Sheffield Wednesday, Richard Naylor and James Baxendale - Leeds United, Chris Brown - Preston North End, Ryan Mason - Tottenham (one year loan) and Kyle Bennett - Bury having signed so far.
There was a dozen on show when the team reported for pre season training.
Youngster Ellis Deeney - Aston Villa, Kevin McDonald - Burnley, Luke Summerfield - Plymouth Argyle, Rowan Vine - Queens Park Rangers, Neil Trotman - Preston North End and Barnsley player Martin Devaney were amongst those identified when the photos were released of the players attending their first day back at Cantley Park.
Rovers first game, as always, was against a local league side. This time it was Armthorpe Welfare in a testimonial game for former Rovers player Des Bennett.
Sean O`Driscoll included ten trialists in the game with two different sides taking to the pitch for each half.
The game finished 1-1 with both goals coming in the closing minutes.
One of the trialists, Martin Devaney, fired Rovers into the lead from distance only for Armthorpe to equalise almost immediately.
Rovers travel to Blue Square Conference side Barrow in their next pre season game and come away with a 2-0 win thanks to goals from John Oster and Simon Gillett.
Once again, O`Driscoll sends out two different sides for each half.
Billy Sharp scores his first goal of pre season when Rovers win 1-0 at another Blue Square conference side Mansfield Town four days later.
Three more trialists that are new to the club play in the game for Rovers.
Rovers lose their first and only game of pre season when they go down 1-0 at Carlisle United in a benefit match for former player Sean McDaid.
O`Driscoll once again plays two different sides in each half with eight trialists playing in the second half of the game.
With Rovers already definitely missing six players for the start of the season the news that Mark Wilson will also miss the start with a calf problem is bad news.
Rovers get back to winning ways with a 1-0 win over near neighbours Sheffield United at Bramall Lane thanks to another goal from Simon Gillett.
Rovers are now down to five trialists, with two new ones taking part in the game.
The pre season campaign is finished with a comprehensive 3-0 win at Grimsby Town thanks to goals from Billy Sharp, James Coppinger and a first for the club from James Baxendale.
Five trialists are once again involved with Rachid Bouhenna, who is rumoured to have signed a contract with Rovers playing in every pre season game.
Giles Barnes, formerly of Derby County and West Brom is the latest trialist to arrive at the club and play in the game.
Pre season finished with Rovers winning four, drawing one and losing one.
The worrying aspect of pre season is the amount of minutes on the pitch for most of the squad, with most players playing just fourty-five minutes of each game until the final game at Grimsby.
In addition, there has been no settled side as O`Driscoll has used around twenty trialists during pre season.
The big plusses have been James Coppinger and Billy Sharp are still at the club after much interest in the pair over the summer.
Simon Gillett is looking the business in midfield and has scored two terrific goals during pre season.
Richard Naylor adds experience to the centre of defence and the signing of youngster James Baxendale looks like a good signing after impressing.
Kyle Bennett has showed glimpses of the excitement he will add to the side and he put in his best performance at Grimsby Town on Friday night.
We can now look forward to the new season and what looks a very difficult first month.
Brighton will be carrying the momentum of winning League One last season and the first game in their new home will also have them hyped up for the game in what looks likely to be a full house.
Next up are Championship favourites West Ham United at the Keepmoat, quickly followed by regular top six side Nottingham Forest, also at the Keepmoat.
Derby away is next for Rovers and the Rams have strengthened their squad heavily over the summer.
A difficult opening fortnight for Rovers in what is a very competitive championship.
Hopefully Rovers can avoid the crippling injury list this season that almost proved so fatal last season.
Rovers also have a number of players due to be back by Christmas at the latest and if Rovers can prove to be competitive in the first half of the season who knows what 2013 will bring.
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Date:Monday August 1 2011
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