It’s a shame that Elliot Embleton didn’t make the trip, as Tony Mowbray had previously said he expected Embo to perhaps play a part in the final game of the tour.
I’m guessing that he’s not quite as up to speed in his recovery as they thought at this stage, but there’s no point in rushing players back from injury in pre-season, especially when he plays a position that we’re relatively well stocked in.
On the other hand, there are positives to take.
Dennis Cirkin and Danny Batth are heading to America and they should play some part after missing the first couple of games of pre-season, as are Nectaris Triantis and Jenson Seelt, who’ve only just joined the group.
Then there’s the clutch of promising kids that the club have high hopes for: Matthew Young (academy goalkeeper), Zak Johnson (who played at Gateshead and is a captain at England U18 level) and Chris Rigg (no need for me to introduce this lad).
Even if they play just a small part it’ll be beneficial, but what’s perhaps more important for them is being around senior players and learning and understanding what it means to be a senior pro in pre-season.
Their time isn’t quite now, but in the years to come they’ll look back on the experience and understand that it was hugely beneficial for their development.
For the first time in years, I actually feel like we’re in decent shape going into pre-season.
Yes, there are still areas of the squad where we require strengthening, particularly up top, and there are still some important players who are sat on the sidelines unable to contribute, but overall, we look strong.
We’ve named a squad of twenty six players and given that we can only field eleven of them at any given time, it shows how strong we are currently.
I imagine that there are several players that the club are undecided on when it comes to allowing them to leave and maybe this tour will be the deciding factor, but who knows?
We can only hope that when the players return to Wearside they do so having gotten fitter, stronger and mentally tougher, and ready for the season ahead.
Andrew Smithson says…
I really like what I’ve seen of Zak Johnson and Chris Rigg so far, and think that they fully deserve this chance.
I’m not as familiar with Matthew Young but circumstances have fallen brilliantly for him, and if he’s as clued up as the other two appear to be, he could really make the most of it. Travelling the world to play football is genuinely the type of thing they will have grown up dreaming of, so it will hopefully be an unforgettable experience.
In terms of career progression. it could be massive.
They should come on in leaps and bounds just by training with the senior pros and I think being able to watch them closely and understand how they live and prepare before sessions or games will be key.
As for the rest of the lads, being away will hopefully help maintain the camaraderie we appear to have.
I’d rather they were staying closer to home in some respects but the facilities look excellent and a couple of wins would be excellent for morale.
It’s a shame some of the injured players are unable to go, but it makes sense that they focus on their recovery and all things being well they’ll be linking back up with a unit in high spirits in a couple of weeks time!
Malc Dugdale says…
I can see Zak Johnson really benefitting from this tour, probably more than the others. That said, with the exit of Alex Bass on a season-long loan, someone needs to step up and support Anthony Patterson.
However, I fully expect another goalkeeper to be on the way, as Matthew Young is very young to be a backup stopper in the second tier.
In last weekend’s double header, Johnson showed that he’s a quality player, although he didn’t get as much of a chance last season as Chris Rigg, who showed his abilities very well.
With all the defensive injuries we had last season, we’ll be wise to have backups for backups, and Johnson is certainly getting to the point where he can be a player to offer cover and maybe come off the bench when games need closing out.
If nothing else, these lads will get to know the senior players and gel with a widely youthful squad, which will only help them when they’re deemed ready.