A striking feature of the running phases of pre-season training last week was when first year professional Sam Adewusi forged ahead during the individual effort stages, barely breaking sweat as he completed the drills with relative ease.
Speaking about the performance of the younger members of the squad thus far, manager John Sheridan said: “I said the other day, I don’t tend to look at who can run the fastest or furthest because the most important part of the job is to be able to work within a team framework and to be able to use a football.
“Having said that, it’s great to see the young lads have taken their fitness seriously and that they want to perform well in terms of being physically fit and ready to go. Sam and the other lads are doing well and being in good shape certainly won’t do anybody any harm.”
“Listen, when it comes to young players, I can only repeat what I’ve said all along,” he continued. “I can only give them the belief that I’ll involve them if they show me they’re good enough. That’s been made clear to them.
“If you’re good enough, and capable of playing in a team, who cares how old you are? I certainly don’t. I’ll try to give them all as much positive feedback as I can but, more than anything, they’ll have the belief that they’ll have a chance of playing.
“That’s all I can do. I don’t have to keep going on and on about it. They know they’re making a step up and that they’re now playing with first team players, so they have to match the levels and produce the goods.”
“What we have to understand is that it will probably be one or two who come through, rather than five or six,” he said. “We’ll have them all training with us and the message they’ll hear from me is that I’m going to give them a chance.
“Alongside side that is the fact that we’re in a game which is about getting results quickly, so you don’t always get the time to build and bring players through. However, I’ve given young lads their debuts in the past, and they’ve played and gone on to better things. Hopefully that will continue.”
Key to developing the younger members of the group, and making them feel a real part of the squad, will be the attitude shown towards them by the more senior squad members.
“The experienced lads will be massively important for us this season,” the manager agreed. “Sometimes when you have those experienced players you don’t have to shout as much, as a manager, because they sort situations out for you.
“If you see someone give the rollicking or advice it definitely does help you out, because you can then add your advice in a different way. Obviously, your captain comes into that, but that’s not something I’ve looked at yet.
“As far as I’m concerned I’m looking for as many leaders as possible. I was never a captain, but I was always the moaniest player on the pitch. The biggest moaner I ever played with was Chris Waddle. He was never a captain, but you knew he was there.
“If you have five or six players who are constantly at it you’ll find that everyone is always on their toes. I’d like to think we have enough players who will be leaders anyway, because that’s what a good team needs.”
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