Stevenage boss Darren Sarll: It’s a big year for our young players

Stevenage FC

Stevenage FC - Credit: Archant

One of the few positives from last season for Stevenage Football Club during the otherwise disappointing nine months was the blooding of younger players – albeit with mixed results.

But with a number of young players benefitting from another term’s experience – even if injuries and rawness curtailed the progress of some – manager Darren Sarll took time out from his busy pre-season schedule to discuss young tyros who may form the playing future of the North Herts club.

Supremo Sarll – who stabilised the club after the rather muddled reign of Teddy Sheringham – already has 14 years under his belt as a coach, and is the perfect man to run the rule over his Boro Babes.

Passionate Sarll told the Comet: “It’s a big year for the likes of Tom Conlon, Tom Pett and Ben Kennedy. They have to start challenging to get to the forefront of the first XI and making an impact.

“They must contribute more to our goals, to our assists, to our attacking play.

“Tom Pett is probably too unselfish at times in the way he works for the team – but which is a wonderful trait to have.

“Tom Conlon needs to add a bit more of that – but in terms of understanding that requirement rather than the ability to carry it out.

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“With Ben Kennedy, he needs to try and rebuild the performances he had late on under Graham [Westley] in the play-off season of 2014/15.

“If we can get those three to their potential will mean they and the club will do well.

“It will take a great deal of commitment from them to do that.

“They will have to live correctly away from the football club. Sacrifices will have to be made. They will have to do a lot of the tough, disciplined things expected of them as young footballers – but if they’re prepared to do that then there’s no reason why they can’t go and achieve.”

Another player who has been touted as an potential Stevenage star, wideman Dipo Akinyemi, has been told in no uncertain fashion he needs to improve.

But Sarll is perceptive enough to realise with youngsters such as the raw Akinyemi he needs more experience as well as lectures.

Sarll explained: “With Dipo people have to remember I took him as a youth team manager out of Potters Bar.

“He then had six months to earn the right to play and did so. But he was still fresh out of Potters Bar with no structured coaching through an academy or a centre of excellence.

“And that’s the reason he is as inconsistent at the moment as he is. He’s the same age as Ryan Johnson, but in terms of his footballing education and his capability to be coached is a lot less than the other young groups. We’ve got to be patient with Dipo.

“If we want a consistent Dipo he will want more educating along the way. He will probably need another loan spell after his time at Dulwich Hamlet last season.

“Has he improved? Absolutely. But he’s fully aware I will not have people hanging onto the coat tails of the first team squad without improving.

“What we do at this club – because of the success of George Boyd – is when we see a winger we think he’s the solution, when they still have a lot of developing to do.”

Under Sarll’s guidance and keen eye let’s hope all four youngsters can align their own hoped-for improvements to coincide with an upturn in Boro’s fortunes – because if they do then the future’s bright for all concerned.

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