Encouraged by my first foray in to the blog writers’ abyss, I have been encouraged by the reaction and discussion following the Danny Guthrie topic.
There were some mixed feelings towards him; however the general consensus at the time of writing this article is that 63% of our readers who voted feel that he should remain with our squad over the coming years.
Today we take a look at young Northern Ireland international Shane Ferguson. Born in County Derry, he was a keen sportsman from a young age and played for his hometown in both football and Gaelic football.
At 5’11’’ he is taller than you would think, but only 10 stones 7 lbs he is not the bulkiest of guys for somebody of his height and as a result he has a tendency to be pushed off the ball a bit easily. We were told he was put on a weight training programme over the summer in an effort to build up his strength and stamina but injury at the start of the season has ensured we did not see the results.
At 20 years old, he still has time ahead of him. With pace and skill in abundance he is a real talent. A product of our increasingly impressive youth academy, Ferguson made quite an impression in the 2008-2009 season with the reserves. That season he even managed a goal against the Mackems. Oddly, he made his full international debut before he had even made an appearance for our senior side! This was in June 2009 s a 79th minute sub during a 3-0 loss to Italy in Pisa.
It was not long until he graced the famous black and white stripes for real though. He made his full debut by starting at left back against Accrington Stanley in a Carling Cup game in August 2010. He played very well in that 3-2 win and notably, did not concede a single foul. That season he would go on to make 9 first team appearances, including 2 starts against Chelsea and appearing in the senior match day squad no less than 18 times. It is fair to say he is valued by our management. That year also saw him earn a new five year contract.
If he were fit at the beginning of this season, I think we would have seen him fighting Ryan Taylor for that left back spot. By the time he got back to fitness, Ryan had that spot nailed down. Despite this, Ferguson still found himself starting the Carling Cup win against Forest and was included in the squads for Scunthorpe and Fulham prior to this.
Since then Davide Santon has recovered from his own layoff and Ferguson has found himself down the pecking order. When he does play however, us fans are treated to an attack minded young footballer who appears as comfortable bombing down the wing getting crosses in as he does sticking to defensive duties. He certainly has a trick or two, has a bit of pace and has shown early signs of having a decent cross on him.
Indeed he seems a real prospect, but ladies and gents – I’m concerned for our little full back flier! Some would argue he would make a better winger than full back. With Guti signing a new deal and Marveaux coming on strong, when would he game a game in that position? Furthermore, Ryan Taylor has done a decent job at left back despite the odd mistake. With Italian International Santon looking very likely to claim that spot for himself in the coming weeks, where does this leave young Shane?
Do we think he should be trained up to stand in for Santon, or would he be better served going on a season’s loan to build up his experience? If his fitness and weights programme has paid off then he could be a real player, but last season I looked at him run out of steam over and over again as if he just could not manage to maintain his high standards any longer than 70 minutes.
If he can’t overcome this, will he ever realise his obvious potential? Do we think he will ever be good enough to challenge the likes of Santon, Guti or Marveaux for a first team place?
On a sidenote – there is a bit of a storm brewing regarding his International future. He has been called up to the senior side, but the management cannot get hold of him. This is not the first time either and it seems Nigel Worthington has sent a bit of a volley his way: ‘I’ve been trying for the last 36-48 hours to get in contact with the boy to let him know I’d like to draft him into the squad,’ said the manager. His club has been notified and we’ve had the medical records sent back to us, as we always do with players to see if there are any problems, but we’ve had no contact.
‘It beggars belief when you read in the press that people want to represent their country and when you give them the opportunity to do so there’s no willingness, or manners, to say ‘no I don’t want to be involved’ or ‘Yes, I’m coming.’
His 1 appearance for the Northern Irish was a friendly appearance, so technically he is still eligible to play for the Republic. It would seem this may well be his preferred option.
He goes on;‘I can only do what I’ve done. People at the Irish Football Association have done what they do and we can’t do any more. We can’t put hands on and literally drag people in.”The only time I’ve seen Shane is at Milk Cups and sometimes you make young people aware of things that would make them a better player, Whether that’s upset him in some way or another I don’t know. If he wants to be involved, great. If he wants to go somewhere else, that’s his decision. If I’m not here (at the end of the Euro 2012 qualifying campaign) and he wants to come in after that, that’s up to him. But certainly, when I was a young man, if you were selected for your country you were on the first plane over.’
Is this an early sign of petulance from our left sided prospect, or is it a case of the Northern Irish desparately trying to cling onto a young man they feel could bring them future success?
Over to you guys to debate and I invite you to vote on the subject.