Johnson Pushes On

Tony Carr says he hopes that young centre half Glen Johnson is on the fringes of the first team some time next season.

"It was pleasing to see that Glen Johnson was playing in the reserves last Tuesday night in a very experienced line up, and he acquitted himself very well," he says.

"He didn't play for the under-19s on Saturday as we don't want to burn him out with two games every week - and Leon Britton is in a similar category.

"The report came back that after a shaky first 15 minutes he performed admirably, and despite being just 17, we would like to think he can progress and hold his own in the reserve team.

"He has been a regular for the England under-15s and he has been captain of the under-16s, so we felt we had a player that potentially could go and do very well.

"Let's hope he can grab the opportunity, though it doesn't happen overnight as Jermain Defoe knows.

"But I hope in 12 months time we are saying the same thing about Glen, that he is on the fringes of the first team.

"I'd like to think he can become a regular in the reserves but it will depend on his performances in the next few weeks."

As for Leon, who has also tasted reserve team action, he says: "The problem with Leon Britton is that he finds it tough on the physical side because he is not a very big player.

"Consequently it is a matter of being patient with him; he may not get his strength back until he is 20 or 21.

"You don't lose that talent, but he may be one that blossoms very late because you can't put strength on players before they are fully developed as adults.

"Some players are fully mature at 16 or 17 and you can put bulk on them but there are other players that don't develop until later."

Another player of whom hopes are high is Manny Cascione, and Tony adds: "Leon has been in front of him in terms of getting into the reserves, with whom he has trained a lot.

"He is from a different culture: his talent has been developed slightly differently in Italy where the game is only technically based.

"The demands of the English league are not the same because you have to be technically good but you have to be physically strong as well - that is the area we are working on with Manny.

"You can't rush these things and we always feel we try to give a player every opportunity until they are 20 or 21 before we say no."

As for the under-19s' performances thus far, he adds: "As long as we can get players that can push on and progress that is the main thing, but as a team we are drawing too many games.

"I feel we're perhaps not as good as the better teams we've played and certainly not as poor as the worst team we've played.

"We are going to be middling this year because defensively we are not as strong as we have been.

"We are working on it constantly but still conceding too many goals for my liking and that doesn't really give you a platform to win games; we need to keep more clean sheets.

"But a lot of our play has been enterprising and very good, and the bottom line is it is still about who we produce to become a regular reserve team player and eventually push for a first team place."