Stevenage defender enjoys week with Tottenham Hotspur

Ryan Johnson

Ryan Johnson - Credit: Archant

Stevenage defender Ryan Johnson has spent a week training and playing with Tottenham Hotspur Academy.

Boro boss Darren Sarll revealed to the Comet the background to the 20-year-old’s situation with Spurs, whose U21 side play some of their home games at The Lamex Stadium.

“We have got a really terrific relationship with Tottenham, in particularly the academy department,” said Sarll.

“It helped us with Connor Ogilvie [joining on loan from Spurs] initially last year, the locality of the two clubs makes it very accessible.

“Tottenham have been fantastic to Stevenage and I guess going the other way we have let Ryan Johnson go and have some training and a game there just as part of our student-exchange type process to try and improve our young players.”

Johnson’s stint with the Premier League club, which saw him play for their U23s in a 4-1 loss to Everton at Goodison Park, shows that Stevenage are producing talented young players.

“The feedback we had was great,” he said. “What is also does is it’s almost like quality assurance for me in that Stevenage are producing players that can go and handle a U23 top Premier League academy and that’s all we did with Ryan.

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“We are very open to those experiences for our young players because we want the very best for our young players.

“Unfortunately for Ben [Kennedy] he never had the chance for such things as he was always winning games for the first team.”

Sarll pointed out the reason why it has been more straightforward to give chances to the club’s young attackers rather than the defenders.

“It’s a completely different kettle of fish when you are blooding a central defender to when you are blooding a right winger who has offensive freedom to make mistakes, Ryan has got zero freedom to make any mistakes,” he said.

“I thought it was a great experience for him and it will be something I’m always open to as long as the environment is right he is going in to and with people we trust.

“He worked under [former Aston Villa and England player] Ugo Ehiogu who was a top central defender, but again it was more born out of our relationship with Tottenham, and the way they handled Ryan we are very appreciative of, as is Ryan.”