The news regarding the injury of Ashley Barnes was horrific.
It was a sad way to end what has been a real breakthrough for the striker in many ways this season; the Ashley Barnes of Brighton was often ridiculed for his apparent lack of quality though those doubters will be much quieter now that’s for sure. Though for some people within the squad, they should – in the nicest possible manner – have their mouths watering at the moment for it lowers the level of difficulty into breaking into the starting XI, even if a striker is bought in the summer.
Certainly I’m of the mind that clubs, particularly Burnley, don’t really take advantage of their youth systems. And what is the point? If you blood through young talent but continually deem it surplus to requirement it really is a pointless exercise. And it’s the same with the big clubs. Manchester City boast outstanding training and coaching to train an army of young guns yet they never get a look in as far as the first team is concerned.
So in regards to my brief rant, the promotion of Jason Gilchrist to the first team squad would be something I would certainly vouch for.
Gilchrist’s goal-scoring in the youth league’s was excellent and his hat-trick against Manchester United in the FA Youth Cup is no mean feat. His experience at Accrington Stanley for the latter half of the season gave him a real taste of professional league football and despite not finding the net, his time spent there will have been a real learning curve.
Jay Rodriguez struggled to find the net in his early loan experiences with Stirling Albion and Barnsley but it’s those learning experiences which will have helped his development massively. It was the season after these loan moves where he developed into a prolific hitman in front of goal.
Perhaps Brian Laws’ greatest achievement as Burnley manager was helping to transform a diamond in the rough by giving him successive opportunities to succeed. There is no reason why Gilchrist cannot follow a similar path if given confidence by the manager that he will have chances to get in the team this season even if it doesn’t work out in his first few matches.
In contrast, Sean Dyche has two more experienced pros in Lukas Jutkiewicz and Marvin Sordell who really need to seize this opportunity.
Jutkiewicz has been a disaster, there are no two ways about it, and in many ways you have to feel sorry for the big man.
He would have hardly believed his luck that a Premier League club were after his signature and following his arrival, a flurry of goals in pre-season had depicted the notion of success. Unfortunately, the Premier League is a very difficult league and after a few decent matches at the start, in which he tussled hard with opposing centre-halves, Jutkiewicz then wasn’t making those goalscoring runs, antagonising the centre-halves as much and looked scared to receive the ball. People must remember, Burnley didn’t just pull £1.5 million out of the air to secure his services, they were pushed heavily by Bolton Wanderers who were willing to bid up to £1 million for the Middlesbrough man, who they greatly admired.
The Premier League is vastly different to the Championship. In the Championship, defenders don’t hold their position as efficiently and it’s relatively easy to pick out holes, even with long hoofs up from the back. In the Championship rather than getting than one chance which you have to take, you get multiple opportunities to find the back of the net. Certainly Jukiewicz could benefit from this. It is clear in his game he was playing with zero per cent confidence and therefore people must take into account what he could potentially do with more confidence and I dare say more than has been seen thus far.
As for Marvin Sordell, he has proven to be a frustrating enigma. His fabulous, crisp half volley from 20 yards against Tottenham in the FA Cup was a sign of the young talent that once had potential in abundance. The young talent that scored with a sensational turn and rocket from 30 yards for the England youth setup against Isreal and the man who earned a big reputation with his efforts at Watford.
Yet his career has stalled and at times – in the biggest league in England – he looked disinterested and lost. He looked a defeated man as soon as he stepped on to the pitch. Amazing when you consider his rapid speed, silky skills and eye for goal, the main reasons why Dyche took a punt on him in the first instance. Mentally he didn’t look ready for the top flight but with that long, grueling season now over, the manager needs to take him under his wing and swap this pale imitation for the talented one that has been locked up. Otherwise, one can only see the forward making further declines in his career.
So in essence, the Barnes injury is pretty much the worst possible news that could have happened in the past week.
But there should be two hungry strikers and an even hungrier home gown talent itching to capitalise on the apparent striker shortage and that can only help get the best out of them.
Could Jutkiewicz, Sordell or Gilchrist step up in Barnes’ absence? Comment below.