Words by Gary Carter
JAMES Tarkowski’s big night passed Oldham boss Richie Wellens by – for him it was all about Radcliffe Borough v Ossett Albion.
But he believes the defender’s graduation to England’s side is a lesson for all young footballers, do not be afraid to drop down to get first team action.
As Burnley man Tarkowski, who started at Boundary Park, made his international debut last Tuesday, many staff who nurtured him from being a raw 13-year-old looked on with pride.
But boss Wellens was one of 113 people watching an Evo-Stik League clash.
However, the rise of the 25-year-old and others has not passed the former Manchester United junior by, nor has the importance of playing alongside men, rather than shying away in age group football.
He said: “It was different when I was young, as at United there was a B team, an A team and the reserves. My first ever reserve game was against Man City at Gigg Lane and Andy Cole and Dwight Yorke were up front, I was 16.
“All of a sudden I was playing with people who were winning the treble two years later but it’s totally different now. Under 23s may be brilliant at that level but they’re not playing against seasoned pros or men.
“One thing I would say is, ‘go out and play’ and the current England team is a good example of that. Harry Kane went out on loan, Jamie Vardy was a lower league player, Danny Rose went to Millwall, Kyle Walker was at Sheffield United and James started off here.
“So go out and play. If you think you’re good enough for a certain level but can’t get a club, drop down a league and get used to the physicality and pace. My advice would be, ‘Believe you can get to the top but go out and play first team football as soon as you can’.
“But I’ve got to be honest, I didn’t watch James’ debut. I went to Radcliffe v Ossett, so it was a bit different!”