Going out on loan is part of your education.

IT’S GREAT To hear that young Adam Reach is doing well on loan at Shrewsbury.

He’s getting a lot of games under his belt and after a bit of a shaky start there he’s finding his feet.

Now their manager Graham Turner wants to keep him longer. That has to be good for the boys’ career.

Because young players can get all the coaching and do all the training in the world but there’s no substitute for playing a competitive 90 minutes week-in, week-out.

You can only learn so much from the bench and getting the odd cameo in the early rounds of the cups .

Training with seasoned pros is one thing but the only way to really learn the game is actually playing against them.

These lads play most of their football in the Academy leagues where there is a lot of skill but very little contact.

But to flourish in football you need survive against aggressive and cynical pros, grown men desperate for a win bonus to pay their mortgage.

And there is only one way to learn that: go out and test yourself against these monsters.

Go out and get toughened up physically and mentally and show you have what it takes.

I hope Adam Reach can do that and come back a better player for Boro.

A good loan spell at a lower league club can be the making of him.

Look at Ben Gibson. He left on loan as a decent Academy player with potential and he came back as a man to grab a first team shirt on merit.

He’s the same age as Adam Reach and Curtis Main but he’s won at Wembley, won promotions, been at a club that was going bust and has two full seasons under his belt.

He knows what the game is about. He’s learned it the hard way. The right way.

Ben Gibson has gone down the route that Stewart Downing went down at Sunderland. And Adam Johnson at Watford. And David Wheater and Matty Bates at Darlington. And a lot of others who have made the grade.

For young footballers looking to fast forward their career a successful loan or two is a really important.

You can only learn so much at your own club if you are not in the first team.

It can demoralise you if you are working hard but not getting a sniff because older, better, more expensive players are ahead of you.

And it is not as if there are old style reserve games where you are up against seasoned old pros coming back from injury or busting a gut to impress their boss.

There is no substitute for playing real games and if they aren’t getting any they should be banging on the manager’s door demanding he gets them a loan spell at a team where they will.

Sometimes you think maybe the youngsters are a little bit too cosy at Boro. A bit pampered.

Hurworth is fantastic. The location is fantastic with the hotel and golf course and health spa and state of the art training complex is sheer luxury.

Maybe a spell at a club with tatty old changing rooms and lukewarm showers will show them how the other half live.

Maybe if the have to clear the dog dirt off the training pitch they will appreciate what they have at Boro a bit more.


IT WAS interesting to see Gordon Strachan getting a lot of praise as Scotland beat Croatia to make it three wins out of four since he took over the national side.

He has won home and away against Croatia too which is no mean feat – especially with a squad that all the pundits said were a bunch of duffers.

Of course, you could say that with no chance of Scotland qualifying the heat was off and the real pressure comes when you have a string of big must-win games.

I was a vocal critic of the man while he was at Boro but credit where it is due and good luck to him.

And good luck to another former Boro boss Gareth Southgate too.

He has enjoyed an unbeaten start to his job as manager of the England Under-21s after taking over a side in a slump.

I always respected Gareth as a player and manager and thought his sacking was poorly timed.

He has always struck me as a decent and honest guy, a thinker and a good communicator.

But it struck me that both the previous sacked Boro bosses are now in top jobs – and before that Steve McClaren left for England.

There must be something in the water that makes the Riverside a breeding ground for international managers.

Yet all three were chased out of Teesside by a mob waving pitchforks!

Thanks to The Evening Gazette.

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