Lambert: Ndaba's Got Better and Better
Thursday, 21st Feb 2019 18:47
Town manager Paul Lambert believes young defender Corrie Ndaba, who signed his first professional deal earlier this week, is another academy product who has a chance of making it with the Blues and has made progress this season.
The 19-year-old penned a deal which runs to the summer of 2022 with Town having an option for a further season.
Former Republic of Ireland U18 international Ndaba, a centre-half or full-back, joined Town's academy as a full-time scholar in the summer of 2016 having previously been with Dublin youth side Cherry Orchard.
“The club lost a couple of left-footed centre-halves, Adam Webster went to Bristol City and the lad Matt Clarke, who is doing really well, went to Portsmouth and I thought we need a left-footer at centre-half,” Lambert said.
“I think it’s impossible to lose another young one that I think’s got a chance. I think Corrie’s got better and better, he’s trained with us and he’s never let himself down.
“He’s only a kid, his left foot is very, very good and once he gets a little bit more body strength he’s going to be a good one.”
With skipper Luke Chambers and James Collins both in their mid-thirties and Matthew Pennington set to return to Everton at the end of his loan in the summer, central defensive positions will be up for grabs in the seasons to come with Ndaba and Luke Woolfenden, who also recently signed a new deal having spent the campaign at Swindon, well-placed to take advantage.
“The club’s got to have a pathway,” Lambert continued. “There’s no point in having young players coming through and there being no pathway.
“They’ve got to have that and I think it’s great for the club that they’ve got as many as they’ve got, there are a good chunk of them there that could make an impact somewhere along the line. I think it bodes well for the future.
“As I said before, I don’t think the club can keep going and loaning players. It’s OK one or two, but not five and six, it’s too much and then it blocks the pathway of the young players.
“So the decision we have to make is about the pathway for the young ones. Do we have that pathway? And I would rather have some sort of pathway for them where there’s a carrot dangling for them to go and get it and hopefully a few of them can go and grab it.”
Asked about another young central defender Chris Smith, 20, who hasn’t featured for the U23s since November and whose contract is up in the summer, Lambert added: “I think there are decisions on kids getting made, the club are looking at different things at the minute.
“We have to look at lads we think are coming really close to the end of their contracts or guys that we think are not going to do it, I think that’s ongoing at the minute, discussions on every young player is ongoing.”
Also among those featuring in those discussions are likely to be Northern Irish midfielder Conor McKendry, 20, and defender Pat Webber, also 20, who both recently spent time on trial with Saturday’s opponents Wigan with their deals up at the end of the season.
“Development lads, you don’t know who is going to develop quicker, you don’t know who is going to develop slower,” the Blues manager continued.
“You just have to make a judgement of who is going to make an impact in your squad or who can push the older ones every time.
“An older player or an experienced player has to look over their shoulder to what’s coming, whether it’s a guy coming into the club or a young player coming through you think, ‘This guy can be really good’.
“We can’t block the path for young players here. I think the supporters will take to it because they will be identified as our own.
“You heard the reception Teddy Bishop got the other day, Flynn Downes the same, Andre Dozzell’s the same, Jack Lankester the same, Myles Kenlock, they’re all the same, they’ve all been brought up with it.
“It’s a great thing to have, but the club has got to have a pathway for young lads coming through.
“The development for different players is going to go quicker or slower, you have to call it the way you see it at that moment - whether you think they can make it you think they can’t.”
Young striker Aaron Drinan has gone out on loan to his former club Waterford back in his native Ireland. Is that move for his development? “There is that. I know Ben Morris and Ben Folami are injured, which is a little blow for those two kids, but basically that’s what it’s down to.”
Has Drinan, 20 and contracted to the Blues until 2021, been told to go out and score as many goals as he can while back in the League of Ireland?
“There is that but not just about the goalscoring, it’s how they are as kids as well,” Lambert continued. “Aaron’s a really good kid, a nice kid.
“That’s one thing here, the kids here are really nice, really, really nice guys, never really any issues with them at all.
“But football’s a game where some people can overtake you really quickly. If you become static, football doesn’t wait for you, football owes you nothing, it owes you absolutely nothing, football.
“It’s a great game, but it owes you nothing, you have to earn the right to get it and you have to be hungry to get it.
“Aaron definitely needs to go out and play, there’s no point in just staying here and training, it doesn’t help anybody.”
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