Wolves striker Niall Ennis admits the pull of playing for former Albion manager Darren Moore was a factor in him joining Doncaster.
The 20-year-old striker has signed on a season-long loan for the League One club with fellow Molineux Academy graduate Cameron John. Wolverhampton-born Ennis, who was also wanted by League Two side Plymouth, says he jumped at the opportunity to join Rovers when he discovered the club was interested.
Moore managed the Baggies first team in the Premier League and the Championship, as well as their Under-23s. Ennis said: “Hearing a manager like Darren Moore wants you in his team is very flattering. He was an Academy coach which is a positive for me because it means he understands how to develop young players like myself. I’m excited to learn from Darren because he’s already told me that he knows a lot about me. I think it’s good to know that a manager knows about you before they’ve met you as it shows that he’s taken an interest in me. Hopefully I can repay the interest he has shown in me by putting all my efforts into my time at Doncaster.
“I was told by people at Wolves that I need to get experience and when I found out Doncaster were interested and I wanted to sign straight away. I did hear that the gaffer here liked me and that’s always good.”
Ennis is now primed for a possible debut at home to Gillingham – where former Wolves winger Matt Jarvis has been training – tomorrow, with fellow loanees Timothy Dieng, a goalkeeper from QPR, and midfielder Ben Sheaf from Arsenal. “It is good to get the deal done just before the first game of the season and I’m excited to put the shirt on,” he said. “I’m looking forwards to getting started at Doncaster because it’s a club that wants to play football, in a similar way to how we are at Wolves.”
The 20-year-old was Wolves’ nine-goal top scorer as they won the Under-23s Premier League 2 Division 2 title last season, but is relishing the challenge of League One football after injury put paid to his only previous experience at the level after just two appearances for Shrewsbury Town back in August 2017.
“Getting injured while on loan at Shrewsbury gave me a lot of time to mature as a player,” he said. “A lot of what I’ve gone through in the past two years has really helped me mentally. During this time, I learnt how to use my body, make sure I’m right for training and prepare myself for matches in the best way I can.”
Ennis felt he had reached something of a glass ceiling playing Under-23s football. “I’m hoping the move will provide me with some league experience as I feel like I’ve got as far as I can in Under-23 football, and to further my development,” said the striker. “Men’s football is different because there are points on the line and it is the real game. Sometimes at Under-23 level, the game is below head height whereas real football is different, everything means more. It is a real experience against players who have made 100-plus league appearances. The way the club want to play is good because it is attacking and I think that will suit me. To improve and get to the next level, whether that’s making it at Wolves or whatever the future holds, I need to play men’s football.”
John, a centre back, is less well known than goalscorer Ennis but is just as determined to make the most of his move with Rovers. “It’s a great club and I’m really happy to sign here,” he said. “Having a gaffer that understands youth and is keen to play young players plays a factor. I like to play out from the back and Rovers are like that so it’s great for me.
John impressed in Wolves Under-23s’ Premier League 2 Division 2 title-winning side last season but he’s looking forward to playing in front of bigger crowds with points on the line as he steps up to men’s football.
“It’s a lot different from Under-23s – the games mean a lot more, and you’ve got fans behind you,” he added. “Being here for the season means I can grow as a player and embed myself in the culture of the club and see what we can do.
“I like to defend but I also like to be on the ball and pass out of the back. I’ll play my heart out. The lads are a great bunch and they’ve been really welcoming. It’s been a great first day.”
Ennis has also signed a new three-year contract at Wolves before leaving for south Yorkshire. “I’m really happy to get my future sorted out,” he said. “It’s something I wanted to get done straight away and I just can’t wait to kick on now with my loan.
“It’s good that both the club and I have made a commitment to each other for the future. Having that extra bit of security will allow me to focus on my loan now that it’s all sorted.”