Youth Team defender Joe Renner spoke to iFollow about the pre-season so far…
A win in their first pre-season friendly over Rotherham United was followed by defeats against Preston North End and Droylsden’s first team.
Renner, a second-year scholar, missed the majority of last season with a broken fifth metatarsal.
He is hoping to remain injury free this season, and although pre-season has been as tough as expected, the defender is glad to be back and raring to go.
“It’s obviously good to be back and into the swing of football. When you’ve been in the off-season, you want to come back as fit as possible. There’s nothing better than coming back to doing what you love - playing football.
“It’s a bit hard running in the first two weeks, but it’s all about getting fit and back ready for the season, and getting things in place for the start.”
Whilst always nice to record a victory, even in friendly matches, the individual and collective performances take on far more importance when preparing for the season ahead.
“You focus more on the performance and the basic things. The hard work, the finishing aspects going forward, the defending.
“I feel like we were a bit unlucky against Preston. We’ve made two defensive mistakes and they’ve capitalised on both. That happens. We played well against Rotherham, I thought. So, it’s a good start.”
Rochdale have a recent history of bringing players through the Academy, with statistics showing Dale are ranked third in the whole of the Football League for producing players.
Renner says this gives the Youth Team players great confidence that they will be given a chance in the First Team if they deserve it.
“The inspiration, as such, is there. The chances, the opportunities, which aren’t as such as other clubs. Rochdale give opportunities to younger players. That’s the Gaffer’s idealism, if you like, he wants to bring through young players.
“You see the likes of Callum Camps, Jamie Allen, Matty Gillam, Aaron [Morley] even. They all carry those same traits, which you’ve got to have if you want to be in the Gaffer’s plans for next season and the season after.”
To be a young player in the Dale system you need to have more than just ability, and those in the system have had the identity of the Club instilled upon them.
“The traits of the club are brilliant. They work for this club because it’s a hard-working environment, it’s a no excuse environment. That gets passed on to the second years, it gets passed on to the first years, and it goes all the way through the Academy.
“When you watch the first team play on a Saturday, you realise that’s the standard you’ve got to be at, and they carry those traits so there’s no excuse for us not to carry them same traits, because if we want to be on the pitch, we’ve got have those traits.”
You can watch the full 11-minute interview on iFollow.