Saturday, 29 September 2012

Leroy Rosenior: Emerging talents make most of chance to show their stuff

WHILE there has been a bit of transfer activity at both Bristol clubs in recent days, I'd like to start my column this week by talking about a few youngsters who have come in and done well over the last seven week.

At Ashton Gate, we have seen City's Derek McInnes put his faith in young Joe Bryan and James Wilson, while the likes of Oliver Norburn and Fabian Broghammer have been stating cases for more regular inclusion under Mark McGhee at Rovers.

Both managers should be applauded for offering youngsters a chance because it is not easy in these times where a manager's position seems to be under review on a game-by-game basis.

You don't really know what to expect when you throw young players into a team as there is a massive difference between reserves' friendly matches and those at competitive senior level. Consistency is also an issue with inexperienced players.

That, as well the omnipresent pressure to achieve results, is why managers often have a look at their club's youth set-up and then just ignore it, reasoning that young players, unless they have exceptional ability, are not worth the gamble.

I was slightly surprised that Derek went with Bryan at Watford on Saturday, when it seemed more likely that Richard Foster would switch flanks with Mark Wilson coming in on the right.

Credit to Joe for the way he performed then, particularly as he is naturally a more-attack minded player and was playing in a position that is probably unfamiliar to him.

His performance elicited kind words afterwards from McInnes, suggesting that Bryan has a bright future at Ashton Gate even though Wolves full-back George Elokobi was added to the Robins squad on Wednesday as a more experienced short-term replacement for the injured Greg Cunningham.

Another young City player who deserves mention is striker Ryan Taylor, who has surprised quite a few by keeping the likes of new signing Steven Davies and Jon Stead on the bench for the first few weeks of the season.

I saw Ryan playing for Rotherham reserves a couple of years ago and you could tell he had that bit extra about him. The only surprise for me is that it has taken him this long to start showing everyone around Ashton Gate his obvious potential.

Ryan has yet to add to the goal he scored on his first Championship start, against Crystal Palace, last month – but his game is more about the other things he offers.

He's a big lad who is really good with his back to goal and is one of those who sees a picture of the game unfolding around him. I think that his ability to hold the ball up, which allows the midfield players the time to join the attack, is one of the reasons City's goal threat has improved this season.

The two goals they scored at Watford last Saturday made it 15 for the season. It took until November 20 last term for City to reach that total.

The importance of scoring goals, meanwhile, has also not escaped the attention of Mark McGhee at the Memorial Stadium.

The last two performances, following changes to the starting line-up, seem to have steadied the ship following the 4-0 defeat at Gillingham a couple of weeks ago.

A goalless draw against Fleetwood was a decent result and the way the team played was encouraging – Rovers just seem to be running into inspired goalkeepers on a regular basis.

Young Liam O'Brien almost single-handedly restricted Rovers to a single goal at Barnet earlier in the season, and, on Saturday, McGhee would have seen his side claim three points but for some superb second-half saves by Fleetwood goalkeeper Scott Davies.

Following confirmation that Matt Harrold will miss the majority of the season with a knee injury, McGhee has brought in a pair of strikers – former Celtic man Derek Riordan and Bolton youngster Tom Eaves. The manager deserves a lot of credit for what, on the face of it, looks like two good pieces of business.

I wouldn't go as far to say it is 'mission impossible', but based on my own experience I can tell you that options start to become limited once the transfer window closes at the end of August.

As McGhee said last week, there isn't a shop down the road called 'Players 'R' Us' where you can just go and pick what you need off the shelf.

The two additions give Rovers a great chance to get their first win of the season on the board tomorrow – even though they face a tough match against an Exeter City side that could pass itself off as a Bristol-born XI!

The return of Garry Kenneth has served to galvanise Rovers at the back and if the two new faces can add a few goals going the other way, that all-important first three points will not be too far away.

Leroy Rosenior: Emerging talents make most of chance to show their stuff

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