James Hooper became the latest Academy graduate to make his first team debut after coming on as a second half substitute in Dale’s League One fixture against Gillingham.
He joins the likes of Jamie Allen, Callum Camps, Andy Cannon, Johny Diba and Scott Tanser in progressing through the youth ranks and into the first team.
Manager Keith Hill says Hooper, who signed his first professional contract in the summer, has earned his debut.
“He has been doing exceptionally well in training. He’s the one who has stood the course so far and I think he’s flourishing.
“He has shown a lot of encouragement and has been unlucky not to be on the bench a few times.
“I feel as though there’s a very good play in the making there and when he came on I was encouraged by his performance.
“I thought he was good on the counter-attack and we had one or two near misses.”
He continued: “I don’t just hand out debuts for the sake of it - there was a reason for putting him in. He has shown that he can play that position in the bounce games that he has played in and in training. He scores a lot of goals in training so I’m quietly confident that we can get him in the side as the season matures.
“We have to pick three points up on a regular basis and if you’re picking points up on a regular basis then I can afford to give out more debuts and make sure I give them an extended run in the side or on the bench.
“When push comes to shove, we need the no fear of the youth but we need the patience and the carefulness of the experienced players.
“We need to get the points ticking over on the board and hopefully we’ll do that on Saturday.”
The full interview is on Dale PlayerHD.