Barnsley: The kids are all right for Lee Johnson

Mason Holgate
Mason Holgate

Reds boss Lee Johnson is ready to give youth a chance next season as the club gun for a Championship return.

Johnson believes youth is the way forward as the Reds look to build on a promising start under his stewardship.

Youngsters Mason Holgate, James Bree and George Smith all flourished at Oakwell last season when given the chance to shine.

And given more opportunities in the first team, Johnson is confident that the trio will blossom even more next term.

Highly rated Holgate has sparkled at right back and shown his versatility by also starring at centre back.

Meanwhile, left back Smith has grown from strength to strength, and fellow defender Bree has attracted interest from a number of clubs this season for his mature first team showings.

Speaking exclusively to The Star, Johnson revealed: “If you’re good enough, then you’ll play in my team, that’s what I’ve always said.

“I’ve been impressed with the youngsters this season and they’ve shown they’re not out of their depth.

“George has been the surprise package for me, he’s got better as the season has gone on and he’s proven he can cope at this level.

“But the same goes for Mason and James, who have also impressed me.”

As well as wanting to play youth, Johnson knows he must find a balance for the new League One campaign.

And he doubts whether the three youngsters could play a full season until their bodies are mature enough to cope with the demands of the senior game.

Johnson added: “There’s no reason why the three of them can’t all play in our defence, but to ask them to play a 46-game season is asking a lot.

“We’ll have to find that balance, but that’s my job and I’ll know when to use them and when not to.

“But it’s exciting for the club that we’ve got three great kids coming through and pushing for regular first team places.”

Barnsley have announced they will play Barton Town Old Boys FC on July 24 as part of their pre-season preparations.

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