Doncaster Rovers fielded 11 trialists in Saturday’s pre-season friendly against Bradford City with Richie Wellens looking to shape his squad ahead of the new season, as revealed by the Doncaster Free Press.
The game finished 2-0 to Bradford, leaving Wellens disappointed with the performances of several of the players on trial.
A positive Covid-19 test saw many of Doncaster’s first-team players forced to self-isolate and miss the game.
Owen Bailey, Aidan Barlow, Aramide Oteh, Tunji Akinola and Charlie Colkett all took part in what was their second friendly of pre-season, having already appeared against Rossington Main last week.
They were joined for the game at Valley Parade by former Leicester City youngster Darnell Johnson and ex-Peterborough midfielder Louis Reed, whilst four more out-of-contract players played as part of an agreement to help them build up fitness and also allow Wellens to field two different teams on the day.
One player who is unlikely to secure a permanent deal with Doncaster is Dan Gardner. The former Wigan man has been training with the club for the previous two weeks, and was with the squad at Valley Parade, but only took part in some pre-match fitness work.
With chances of being offered a contract slim, Gardner opted to not take part in the game.
Wellens explained: “It’s quite a predicament to be in when you’re on trial and you want a contract.
“If the contract isn’t there at the moment, do you play and risk getting injured?
“I get it but at the moment our budget does not stretch to bringing that calibre of player in.”
Although Richie Wellens was less than satisfied with how his makeshift side performed at Valley Parade, he cannot be accused of not searching far and wide for ways to improve his squad.
The Covid-enforced absences of several important players provided an opportunity for the former Salford boss to experiment with the trialists available to him, and although few of them caught the eye, he will now have a better understanding of which individuals could be worth offering a contract to.
The situation with Dan Gardner seems to be an unfortunate reality of the financial implications of the pandemic, but fostering a relationship with the player creates the possibility of being able to bring him in further down the line if more funds become available.