Devante Rodney’s return to form has come as no shock to Hartlepool United boss Craig Harrison.
And the manager believes the forward’s recent performances are yet another cautionary tale, warning against judging young players, too soon.
The 19-year-old striker put in an incredible shift down the right-hand side against Gateshead on New Year’s Day, following on from his tireless showing a week previous at the International Stadium.
Rodney, signed on a free from Sheffield Wednesday last season, has faced the wrath of Poolies’ frustration this campaign, having put in a number of seemingly below par performances.
But Harrison, who has faith that we are yet to see the best of Rodney, thinks inconsistency goes hand-in-hand with young players adapting to the game, especially in their first full season of men’s football.
“Devante has done well,” said Harrison.
“He’s a 19-year-old who has missed a lot of training and playing. To become an elite athlete it takes well over 10,000 hours of training – if you apply that to Devante he’s missed probably 4,000 of that and more.
“He’s had stick and been a man about it.
“His stature and size and power make him seem he’s older than he is. People forget that he is still a teenager making his way in the game.
“For us, though, he’s played a lot of first-team football this season.
“Because of his performances he’s been a mainstay. He’s been in the team more than not.
“He’s learning and young players are up and down. Quite often when players form drops they need something to fall back on, that experience. Young players like Devante don’t have that. It will come though.”
On judging young players too soon, Harrison added: “It’s a throwaway society. It’s a different world now to when I was a kid. Football is the same, take the rough with the smooth. I cannot criticise the boys for wanting to learn and we work hard each day to make them better players.”