Roeder challenge to youngsters

Chris Lakey Glenn Roeder has challenged his younger players to learn valuable lessons from the string of teenage loan players he has brought to Carrow Road.

Chris Lakey

Glenn Roeder has challenged his younger players to learn valuable lessons from the string of teenage loan players he has brought to Carrow Road.

Five of the loan intake are under the age of 20 - which raised a few eyebrows after it became apparent that home-grown products like Chris Martin and Michael Spillane would be knocked down the pecking order.

"Some of these boys, the Spillanes and the Martins, have a hell of a fight on their hands, because are suddenly seeing the quality of players that are coming from other clubs," said Roeder.

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"I just wanted more strength in depth and it is an opportunity for those lads to see the quality that is at other clubs and the standard that is at other clubs.

"I am not particularly saying the other two haven't got qualities, but we're not so sure that our two would be at Premiership clubs. It is up to them to find the mental toughness to prove they are as good as the young boys that have come in."

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Three loan players - Ryan Bertrand, Kieran Gibbs and James Henry - played for the England Under-19 team which beat Croatia 2-0 in midweek, but Roeder has to decide which five of the seven are included in his squad at Cardiff today.

Roeder has a shortage of specialist strikers, but Gibbs, a left-sided midfield or defender, can turn his hand up front if necessary.

"He has got a good reputation, like all the boys at Arsenal," said Roeder. "He did well, like the other two lads did, playing for England's under-19s. If we could get them all in we would have a very young team, which wouldn't bother me either.

"I think if you ask him he would probably say his preferred position is left back, but like Ryan Bertrand, who has been absolutely wonderful for us, he can play anywhere down the left side.

"The chief scout at Arsenal, who I know very well, says he can put in his shift as a second striker - like all good players they are versatile."

City coach Paul Stephenson watched the Under-19s game and was impressed by Henry, one of four players along with Gibbs, Matthew Bates and Alex Pearce, who arrived on transfer deadline day.

"Paul Stephenson watched him play and said him and (Scott) Sinclair were perhaps England's best two players," Roeder said. "Ryan played well and so did Kieran but he said James Henry and Sinclair from Chelsea wide on the left particularly caught the eye.

"Last Friday when they came in to train, all four of them, I could see the quality had been lifted by just those four boys and it made everyone else find a notch or two more, which you always do when you bring in new players- the ones who are here want to show the new ones they are good players themselves."

Bates came on for right back Jon Otsemobor and did his chances of starting today no harm at all, while Pearce has impressed in training - competition which gives Roeder a pleasant selection problem today.

"As Jon Otsemobor saw on Saturday, Matthew Bates came on and looked outstanding immediately, so whereas Jon had a free run at right back he has got to fight for his shirt now - and so have plenty of other players," said Roeder. "Alex Pearce has impressed all week in training. The two centre backs have kept three clean sheets, the boys have done well, but they know they have got to keep doing well because Alex is proving in training to be an excellent prospect and I can see why Steve Coppell wouldn't entertain a bid for him. He wants to take him back to Reading and give him a chance in the Premiership."

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