Buckley ready to adapt for new Rovers boss

·2-min read
VERSATILE: John Buckley
VERSATILE: John Buckley

JOHN Buckley says he will adapt his game to whatever is asked of him with the prospect of a deeper role for the midfielder next season.

Buckley enjoyed a breakthrough campaign in 2021/22, playing 43 times to take his tally for Rovers to 98.

Having started the season as part of a central midfield three, Buckley was entrusted to play in a more advanced role as a ‘false nine’ in Rovers’ 5-2-3 system.

Yet with the departure of Joe Rothwell, and return to fitness of Bradley Dack, there is a possibility of an opening alongside Lewis Travis in the middle of Rovers’ midfield next season.

And that could see the 22-year-old operate slightly deeper, something he says he is actually more accustomed to.

He finished the season against Birmingham City and asked of his position, Buckley said: “All the best midfielders can play in all of them.

“I like having that flexibility in the midfield and where I get asked to play I’ll adapt my game and try my best.

“Last year was my first playing as a No.10, so I’ve always been more used to supporting play and delivering into the box.

“I’ve been trying to get into the habit of breaking the box, and I feel I’ve done well.

“Playing deeper is something that I’d look forward to.”

One area Buckley will be aiming to improve is his goal tally.

While he managed an impressive seven assists, he scored only three times, including two long-range efforts in the final two away games of the campaign.

That is an area of his game he has worked hard on alongside first-team technical coach Damien Johnson.

He had managed three goals leading into the season, and as he approaches a century of first-team appearances since his debut as an 18-year-old in March 2018, Buckley will be aiming to kick on after what he called a ‘great season’ last time out.

While Tomasson won’t be rigid in one formation, there is a likelihood of him playing with a 4-2-3-1 system.

With Dack enjoying a first pre-season in three years after two serious knee injuries, he could be given the chance to operate in his favoured No.10 role that he has made his own since his arrival at the club five years ago.

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