Barker gets youngsters back involved...
Academy Manager Garreth Barker is pleased with the performances of second-year players Harley Wigley and Charlie Bryan.
The duo found themselves on the periphery of the team last season and struggled for minutes on the pitch, but after playing a key role this time out have impressed the youth team management and even taken recognition at first-team level.
Under Youth Alliance league rules, Tony Thompson, now a first year professional is able to participate in the league, but he has found himself sharing the position with last year’s second choice, Bryan.
“I don’t really know what transpired regarding those boys,” Barker told www.themillers.co.uk. “For Mike and myself, when Charlie Bryan has played he’s been very competent, making another excellent stop at the weekend (against York) and his attitude is spot on. We’ve rotated him as he needs time on the pitch if he’s going to progress as a player. He will play in the FA Youth Cup as Tony is too old for that competition, but we’re more than happy with that.”
When Michael O’Connor was withdrawn in the recent reserve outing with Leeds United, Wigley took to the field to get 25 minutes under his belt, three days after captaining the youth team to victory and a clean sheet against York City.
“Harley I didn’t know, but I had a chat with him in pre-season and learned that he’d only played a couple of games last year. He was pretty low emotionally and psychologically, but he’s responded very well in training with the individual and unit work we have done and steadily he’s progressed and put in some decent performances. His reward was travelling and getting 20 minutes on the pitch with the reserves when he replaced Micky.”
The Millers continue to feature youth team players alongside the professionals at reserve level in the Central League, and Barker is pleased to see the youngsters rewarded for their fine performances and given the opportunities they are.
“It’s good for the boys that they know there’s an opportunity with the reserves because Paul (Raynor) will ask us who has done well; he will then need to fit that around the first team requirements, but the fact that he’s willing to take the boys who last year didn’t play shows that there’s youth and first team staff both picking players on their performances and working towards progression within the club.”