Reporter: Matthew Chambers
Date online: 20 March 2014
Loanee is replica of fans’ former favourite
ATHLETIC’S newest defensive signing will give fans a reminder of what they had in James Tarkowski, says manager Lee Johnson.
Plans to fetch Tarkowski back to Boundary Park on loan after his move to Brentford didn’t work out — which was a big blow for Johnson.
The quest for an experienced replacement was unsuccessful but in 19-year-old Norwich City defender Adel Gafaiti, Athletic has landed an exact replica as cover - though one untested in professional football.
“Adel is like a French-Algerian version of James Tarkowski,” said Johnson, whose acquisition of the player on emergency loan was pushed by the prolonged absence of Genseric Kusunga, who remains two weeks short of resuming training.
“He is good on the ball likes to come out with the ball. He is unproven at this level, but will get his go,”
Tarkowski, who on Saturday serves a one-match ban, will be back when Brentford visit Boundary Park on March 29.
Johnson hopes to have captain Korey Smith available again for more than half of the club’s remaining fixtures.
Had Smith’s knee problem happened at the start of the season, it is likely he would have had surgery. As it is, the player has no significant pain and Athletic will carefully manage his condition.
“Korey certainly won’t be able to play three times in a week,” Johnson said. “We have to be really careful.”
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