Diba Will Be Given Chance
Manager Keith Hill has confirmed that 16 year old goalkeeper Johny Diba will get his first team debut this coming season.
The local lad is still at High School but he has been invited to join the squad at our training camp in Tenerife, because Hill wants to take a really good look at him and work with him having watched him last season in our youth teams, and in a massive vote of confidence for how impressive the youngster has been, Hill has said he will be an 'integral' part of our League One squad for the coming season.
Having been with us since he was 11 years old, he had performed his way onto the radar of the national set up and has now attended an England U16 training camp on two occasions, so clearly big things in the future are expected of this lad - but the only way he'll get there is by keeping his head down and continuing to work hard, and you don't imagine Hill would let him do it any other way despite now bringing his name to the attention of fans.
Speaking to the Official Site our gaffer paid tribute to the work that a number of our youngsters had done this summer in terms of their attitude and commitment to trying to improve themselves during the off season.
'They've shown a good appetite and the likes of Callum Camps, Andy Cannon and Johny Diba are going to be integral in my squad this season. Johny Diba will step up into the first team squad and he will be coming away to Tenerife with us in pre season. I plan on playing him in goal in one of the three games that we play at Spotland, either against Wigan, Bolton or Middlesbrough, because we have to be able to see, with the encouragement from Josh and Steve Collis, how good he possibly is.'
Hill goes on to say that it was a very difficult decision for him to release Robbie Thomson from the club, but obviously Josh Lillis is our number one and player/coach Steve Collis can step in if needed as well, but Hill had to factor in the development of Diba, so in some ways it was more sensible to let Thomson move on and hopefully really begin his first team career with somebody else.
'I needed to make room for Johny to make sure that he is given an opportunity. He might be young in age but I have to help give him an opportunity and that's out intention. I've had a good chat with Johny and during pre season we'll see where he's at. I've probably got a six week window where I can see him and actually give him an opportunity, and we'll be best knowing after that six week period whether he is capable of maintaining it. I've also got Steve, the development that Josh went through under Steve was incredible. Not only is he a very good goalkeeper, but he's a very good coach and if I have to drop back onto him then I will, however I'm very mindful that Johny Diba is a talent and sometimes you've just got to clear the path for them and that's what we've done.'
How integral the three named players, and Diba especially, do become next seasonwaits to be seen, but given the potential Hill believes he has I very much doubt we'll see much of him for another few seasons, he'll more likely be involved in first team affairs, so he gets that boost, gets the training and development and the experience of visiting grounds etc and being involved to some degree on match days so he can adjust to that, but it's likely he'll remain a number 3 for at least another year or two.
alternatively if he gets his chance and takes it, who knows. Good luck to them all in any event, Hill doesn't give people a chance for the hell of it, so there's obviously something about all three irrespective of the tender years.