Roeder: Young loanees are mentally tough
Chris Lakey They may have an average age of just 19, but Norwich City's latest batch of loan players can look after themselves.
They may have an average age of just 19, but Norwich City's latest batch of loan players can look after themselves.
Matthew Bates, 21, Alex Pearce, 19, and 18-year-olds James Henry and Kieran Gibbs have been brought in by manager Glenn Roeder to provide competition and back-up to his in-form team - while developing their own fledgling careers.
But Roeder insists while the quartet will benefit form having the likes of Dion Dublin around, they don't need to be wrapped up in cotton wool during their time in Norfolk.
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“I also think that the group of young players I have in can look after themselves,” he said. “I don't think they'll need a nanny, or a Doc. They are mentally tough boys.”
Roeder has used his Premier League connections well, bringing Bates from Middlesbrough, Gibbs from Arsenal and Pearce and Henry from Reading.
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“I like Steve Coppell, I like him as a manager, the way he does things, the type of player he has in his club,” said Roeder. “If they are not highly motivated, if they are not mentally tough, they don't normally stay at Reading too long so I was quite delighted to take these two boys that we have from Reading. The recommendations are very strong and I am sure the two will be a big asset to us, like the others.
“The lad from Middlesbrough is an incredibly tough person - when he tackles you know you have been tackled, and the young man from Arsenal is highly technical, highly talented, one of the players that Arsene (Wenger) rates extremely highly and who he expects to have an Arsenal career, and that will do for me.”
Bates is on the way back from a cruciate ligament injury, but Roeder says his lack of first team games is not a concern.
“He has had a couple of 90 minutes and he has got enough experience to pick up the threads of playing a game pretty quickly,” he said. “He comes with a big recommendation from his manager and Steve McClaren as well.
“First impressions were very good - he came in training yesterday when he didn't have to, he jumped in a car to make sure he was down on Wednesday night to get training here yesterday. He trained on his own, I met him and he was champing at the bit.”
In return for helping out Wenger, Coppell and Gareth Southgate, Roeder has quality young players to provide competition among a squad that was beginning to look thin on the ground as he eased out the under-achievers from the Peter Grant era.
The only thing missing in the equation was another striker, but Roeder has finally sorted out the defensive short-comings.
“I just wanted another striker to create more competition,” he said. “I think it's healthy. I think the lads who have done so well for the last three months will be coming in this morning and they'll be changing next to four different lads and thinking, 'what's the boss thinking? How safe is my place now?', and it is only safe if you play well. If you don't play well it's not safe.
“I have cover at right back - we didn't have cover before at right back. Jon Otsemobor had the position to himself whether he played well or not - now he has a fight on his hands with Matthew Bates, who can also play as a central defender.”
The quartet join loan players Mo Camara and Ched Evans, who is now with Norwich until the end of the season from Manchester City - a deal Roeder believes could earn the youngster a full international call-up for Wales.
Evans joined Norwich the day after scoring a hat-trick for the Under-21s against France and Roeder believes regular football will help his claim.
“He has a hammer of a shot - we see that every day in training,” said Roeder. “Sometimes you forget with young players how young they are and when their hold-up play isn't quite what you want it to be you just have to remind yourself how young he is.
“I think by staying here for the rest of the season, because John Toshack is changing the Wales team around he will have a chance of being called up to the full squad.”
Meanwhile, Roeder said Simon Lappin turned down a return to his former club St Mirren to go to Motherwell on loan until the end of the season. Ryan Jarvis, who has gone to Notts County, turned down Rotherham, but Roeder said there had been no inquiries for other players, including Rossi Jarvis, who had been linked with Blackpool.
Squad numbers for the new players are: Alex Pearce 15, Kieran Gibbs 18, Matthew Bates 22, James Henry 30.