Bristol City boss discusses Duncan Idehen’s and Omar Taylor-Clarke’s first-team prospects
As Bristol City’s injury problems worsen, Nigel Pearson could look to call-up young talent against Blackpool
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Nigel Pearson has emphasised the importance of creating a ‘safe environment’ to allow Bristol City’s rich vein of talent to progress into the first team as smoothly as possible.
Teenage sensation Alex Scott, pacey forward Tommy Conway and the fresh-faced Sam Bell are three of the most recent prospects to have emerged into City’s senior squad over recent months, and as the Robins’ injury woes continue to exacerbate, there may be a necessity for more youth players to be introduced into the first team set up.
Following Rob Atkinson’s anterior cruciate ligament rupture against Sunderland, and Tomas Kalas’ most recent setback against Cardiff City, the Robins are left with just one fit centre back in Zak Vyner.
Cam Pring filled in alongside Vyner against Huddersfield Town, and will likely retain his place against Mick McCarthy’s side on Saturday. But, Pearson revealed that 20-year-old defender Duncan Idehen trained with the first team in their preparations for Blackpool at home.
“He’s trained with us today. He’s not trained with us for a while, so it’s important to get him back into the fold today, just to see where he is at.
“If you cast your mind to him making his debut at Derby, and his hilarious interview afterwards. He had quite a rapid introduction to the first-team environment and then things didn’t really happen for him in pre-season. It’s how a lot of people's careers go, you’ve got to deal with some disappointments at some point. We’ll see how he is.”
Idehen has impressed for the Robins’ Under-21 side, who currently sit second of the Under-21 Professional Development League. However, Pearson was keen to point out the importance of looking after their young talent.
He said: “I don’t want to put too much pressure on our young players. A lot of our young players have made great strides this year because they have come into a safe environment.
“One of the problems when you’ve got injuries is when people start talking about you could play him or you could play him. I could do that but there are other considerations. I don’t like damaging players. What I don’t want to do is build added exterior pressure on youngsters.”
When young players make their step into senior football, it is vital that they have a positive experience. That hasn’t always been the case at Bristol City in recent times, and the manager is wary of throwing players in at the deep end too soon.
“We’ve had youngsters who have made their debuts who have had a difficult time, like when Joe Low had a tough experience against Lincoln. In the future, he’ll be able to draw on that and use that. When Ryley (Towler) played Millwall at home, had a tough first half in that game,” he said.
“Those types of things can be a damaging experience for youngsters if they’re not managed well. There are a lot of things to consider, we always try and do it with the player's benefit in mind.”
Omar Taylor-Clarke has been among Pearson’s side’s substitutes for their last three Championship matches, and with Kal Naismith, Joe Williams and potentially Matty James all unavailable for Saturday, the 19-year-old could be granted his league debut in the middle of the park.
Pearson could also turn to Andi Weimann, Andy King or Mark Sykes to slot in alongside Alex Scott, but hinted that a debut for the 19-year-old might not be far away.
He explained: “The simple answer about Omar is he’s been in the squad now for a while. He will get his opportunity at some point, we feel he’s very close to being able to perform at this level.”