Johnson was ‘poorly diagnosed’ playing at left-back, says Stevenage’s caretaker boss

Ryan Johnson

Ryan Johnson - Credit: Archant

Darren Sarll believes defender Ryan Johnson has been played out of position by previous Stevenage managers.

Boro’s caretaker manager believes the 19-year-old has a big future in the game ahead of him – but that future will be at centre-half rather than in the left-back position he has been used sparingly in since making his debut for the club in May 2014.

The West Bromwich Albion academy product, who last year had a trial at Manchester United and was also shortlisted for the Football League Apprentice of the Year award, has made nine appearances for the club so far including three starts this season.

His last appearance was off the bench against Cambridge United on February 13 when Sarll asked him to play central midfield in front of the defence but to operate ‘just as a central defender’.

Speaking about his player, Sarll said: “He has been brilliant in training, but I think he was poorly diagnosed when he was used at left-back.

“Sometimes he has to play [there] because needs must, but I don’t think that young man will be a left-back. He’s got a centre-half’s body and mind and he’s more than capable of having a really strong career in central defence.

“He’s a talented boy. I think Ryan has had more challenges laid in front of him than any other player at this club that I’ve had the pleasure of working with.

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“I met him from West Brom on day one and I’ve got nothing but superlatives for him.”

Sarll continued: “He’s got a terrific chance to have a good career but at the moment it’s hard for these young players to see that because they’re clogged behind a strong queue of players in front of them.

“Dale Gorman must be looking at Michael Tonge, Charlie Lee and Lee Cox. Dean Parrett operates in there, and he must think ‘how am I going to get any game time in the next few weeks’.

“It’s testament to them as people and graduates from our academy that they still train their absolute hardest and be ready for those last 10 minutes when I’ve needed them. It’s so important they prepare each and every week as if they’re starting a game.”