Nigel Clough is looking forward to seeing the younger members of his Burton Albion squad in action over pre-season.
As preparations continue for the 2018/19 season, Clough has several youngsters, including Academy graduates Ben Fox, Joe Sbarra, Marcus Dinanga and Marcus Harness contracted for the new campaign.
Harness spent last season on loan at Sky Bet League Two side Port Vale, scoring twice in 42 appearances for The Valiants.
Fox spent two loan spells in the National League with Solihull Moors and Gateshead, while Dinanga scored 25 goals for AFC Telford United in the National League North.
Will Miller will also be out to impress having looked in good form prior to detaching his kneecap in January, ruling him out for the remainder of last season, while Czech defender Tomas Egert will be given the opportunity to join The Brewers in pre-season training despite his short-term contract expiring this summer.
One of Clough’s tasks will be helping the younger players nail down positions over the coming months and year.
“Marcus Harness comes into that category (of young pros) but he’s a bit different because he can play wide or through the middle,” said Clough.
“We’ve got one or two that we’ve got to pin positions down for. Joe Sbarra falls into that category as well.
“It’s great having this flexibility where we can move them but also at some point we’ve all got to identify what is their best position.
“There are very few players like Lucas where you can move them around and not tell too much difference in his performance. We’ve got to do that with Fox, Sbarra and Harness I think.
“Marcus does things on a pitch, and always has done, in glimpses. It’s now about making him more consistent.
“Any one of those could play regularly in League One if they come back in good shape.
“We saw glimpses of Will Miller too. He did well against Sheffield Wednesday early on, won us the penalty and he might have got us a goal in the last six-to-eight weeks.”
All of the younger professionals are keen to be playing for the first team said Clough, with several of those players having now been out on loan spells, some more than once.
“In an ideal situation we’ll have a good look at Marcus Dinanga in pre-season and see, if necessary, if we can get him a Conference club,” said Clough.
“He’s had great experience as Ben Fox has had. It’s a bit like Jacob Davenport in that they’ve been out on loan and now they want to play.
“They’ll get an opportunity.
“It’s notching that level up for Marcus a little bit each time because even from Conference North to League One is a massive jump.
“I wouldn’t say he could go straight in at League One and score goals and he’s got Marcus Harness, Will Miller and Joe Sbarra ahead of him.
“But we’ll see how he does in pre-season. We didn’t see him that often because he’s been at Telford who are full-time, but he’s grown up.
“He’s matured and even in his face you can see he’s grown up a little bit.
“Tomas is one we’re looking forward to seeing as well - he’s looked all right from what we’ve seen. We said to Tomas as soon as we know our fate, we’ll play him but we didn’t know that until three minutes before the end of the season!”