Elliott Bennett preached the message of hard work and determination in a question and answer session with Rovers’ Academy prospects.

More than 70 young players contracted to the club’s age groups, who have all seen their season curtailed, had the opportunity to listen to, and question, the Rovers skipper during an online session.

Bennett says his duties as club captain extend beyond leading the side out on a matchday, and hoped that his time would prove to be beneficial for the youngsters, who were aged between 13 and 18. They included members of the Under-18s side who have helped Rovers reach the last four of the FA Youth Cup, a competition which hasn’t yet been curtailed, but comes at a time when members of Mike Sheron’s side face uncertain futures.

“I thoroughly enjoyed it,” Bennett said. “It was really good to see so many of our younger players taking an interest and wanting to learn from my experiences.

“To have 70 young players listening and asking questions was a really good experience for me and I just hope that some of them took some bits away from it and think about how certain things might work for them and how they can apply those things to their mindset.

“I made it quite clear that I was never the best player in my age group, but my sheer will and determination to try and be the best Elliott Bennett possible has helped me get to where I am today.”

The session was arranged by Rovers’ head of Academy coaching, Tony Carss, as a way of staying connected with the young players whose season was cut short by the coronavirus.

That led to Bennett being invited to talk with the group, something he was more than happy to do.

“Things like this are massively important,” the 31-year-old said.

“Of course, I want to play well on the pitch and do well for the lads, but when you’re not playing at any given time, I still feel like I’ve got a role to play in the dressing room and in the club as a whole, whether that be with the Academy or around the building.

“I like to try and help as many different people as I can, especially when you’re not playing, as is the case now, so I think it’s really important to stay connected to people who are also missing football. For some people, football is their release and the one thing they look forward to each week and that’s obviously been taken away from them at the minute, so if I can help people in any way I’ll always try and do it.”

Rovers have continued to run online sessions for their youngsters since the season was first suspended two months ago.

And Carss felt inviting Bennett to answer questions would prove to be a useful exercise in helping the youngsters develop a deeper understanding of the game and what it entails.

“I felt I would be great if we could set up a Q&A for our Under-13 to Under-18 players with a member of the first team. Elliott was more than happy to join us and speak about his experiences and his career,” he explained.

“What came across strongly was Elliott’s passion and love of the game, along with his enthusiasm for wanting to pass on his knowledge to our young players.

“For us as an Academy, we are extremely grateful to Elliott for giving up over an hour of his time and the key and inspirational messages he gave will be invaluable for the players going forward.

“He is a fantastic role model for all of our young players who aspire to follow in his footsteps.”

High intensity training sessions, and quizzes on the club’s Premier League title-winning season of 1994/95, are just some of the ways the club has interacted with the Academy prospects.

“What was really important was that we created a really positive learning experience for the players during this difficult time,” Carss added.

“The key to this was developing a programme that would be both memorable and beneficial towards their development.”