Pat and Dele can light up the Pre­mier


The Football League Paper - - NEIL MELLOR -

IT’S HARD to ar­gue with the nom­i­na­tions for the Foot­ball League’s Young Player of the Year. Pa­trick Bamford, Dele Alli and Nathan Red­mond have all done the busi­ness. But while Red­mond is an es­tab­lished part of the Nor­wich squad, what does the fu­ture hold for Bamford and Alli? Will this pair of loan stars get a proper op­por­tu­nity to show what they can do when they re­turn to the Pre­mier League?

Alli, who was signed by Spurs in Jan­uary and im­me­di­ately loaned back to MK Dons, has had a fan­tas­tic sea­son. He’s that in­valu­able as­set in foot­ball – a mid­fielder who scores lots and lots of goals.

Karl Robin­son de­serves great credit for that. The Dons boss be­lieves in play­ing foot­ball prop­erly and be­lieves in giv­ing young play­ers the free­dom to ex­press them­selves.

Alli has re­ally blos­somed in that en­vi­ron­ment and it would be great to see him pay them back by win­ning pro­mo­tion to the Cham­pi­onship.


Most peo­ple will look at Dele, see he’s 19, and imag­ine he’ll go straight back into the lower leagues on loan next sea­son. I’m not so sure.

I look at Tot­ten­ham now and age is no bar­rier to the first team. Ryan Ma­son, Harry Kane, Na­bil Ben­taleb – Mauri­cio Po­chet­tino loves to give young play­ers a chance.

They’re likely to be in the Europa League, which will ne­ces­si­tate a big squad. If Alli has a good pre-sea­son, I’d ex­pect him to play, at least un­til Christ­mas. And if he per­forms in Europe, who is to say he won’t keep his shirt for the Pre­mier League? That’s ex­actly what Kane did.

At 21, Chelsea loa­nee Bamford is the same age as Kane – and, for me, he be­longs at the same level.

He did bril­liantly for MK Dons, re­ally well for Derby. He’s gone to Mid­dles­brough this year and be­come the first player since Fabrizio Ra­vanelli to score 16 goals for them in a sea­son.

He’s quick with­out be­ing blis­ter­ing. His en­ergy and work-rate around the pitch are fan­tas­tic. He’s a clever player in his move­ment and use of the ball. He’s also very con­fi­dent, and a good-sized guy who can keep hold of the ball.

Any young player who makes it this far has got the tal­ent. What the Cham­pi­onship does is test whether you’ve got the heart, com­mit­ment and de­sire to re­ally make it.

I think Bamford has passed that test with fly­ing colours. He doesn’t be­long on loan in the Cham­pi­onship any more. There’s noth­ing left to learn. For me, he has to spend next sea­son in the Pre­mier League, and prefer­ably with Chelsea.

How else can he de­velop? He needs an op­por­tu­nity and when I say op­por­tu­nity I don’t mean five games in the Pre­mier League, no goals and that’s it. Too many man­agers seem to think that’s enough.

You have to be fair to th­ese play­ers. You can’t ex­pect them to re­peat what they did in the Cham­pi­onship with­out giv­ing them the same en­vi­ron­ment – a con­sis­tent run in the side and the trust of the manager.

It’s like Jamie Vardy and David Nu­gent. They were ab­so­lutely su­perb for Le­ices­ter last sea­son, scored bags of goals.

This sea­son, they haven’t been quite so good and im­me­di­ately peo­ple say ‘Oh, Cham­pi­onship play­ers who couldn’t adapt’. That’s not fair be­cause they’ve gone from a side who were fly­ing to one that is strug­gling.

Give Alli free­dom to play and he can strut his stuff. Play Bamford ev­ery week in a good Chelsea side and watch him score. Give them a hand­ful of min­utes here and there and you’re just wast­ing a lot of tal­ent.

WHEN Dougie Freed­man took over at Not­ting­ham For­est im­me­di­ately lost top-scorer Britt As­som­ba­longa to in­jury, you feared the worst.

But, against all odds, they went on a fan­tas­tic run which end at one point looked like it might even in the play-offs.

Now Dougie has been re­warded with a two-year con­tract and it would be a great if he could keep the mo­men­tum go­ing be­cause For­est are a club who've knocked at the door for so, so long. For the first time in a while they can ap­proach a sum­mer with a bit of sta­bil­ity.

It should also en­cour­age any coach or as­sis­tant asked to take tem­po­rary charge that if they seize the chance, they force the chair­man's hand.

PIC­TURE: Ac­tion Images

LOAN STAR: Pa­trick Bamford has been a rev­e­la­tion at Mid­dles­brough this sea­son

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