Boss throws down gauntlet to front man

Date published: 04 July 2014

BULKED-UP Rhys Turner will get an early shot at impressing his manager tomorrow as Athletic face up to the challenge of Steaua Bucharest.

The former Stockport striker got only a brief chance in the first team last season following his £20,000 move to Park, spending 68 minutes on the pitch in one start and a single appearance as a substitute.

Now, the 18-year-old cuts a more imposing figure, having piled on muscle during the break.

The trick for Turner, Johnson says, is to learn to combat the destructive tactics of the smarter defenders in Sky Bet League One.

“With that ball over the top, Rhys is a real danger,” said Johnson, who takes his squad to St George’s Park tomorrow for the private match against the Romanian champions. “But he needs to learn how to use what he has got.”

Two different sides will take to the field in each 45-minute half tomorrow and Johnson will run the rule over his trialists, who include ex-Carlisle man Chris Chantler, former Kilmarnock forward William Gros and Nicky Featherstone, once of Hull and Walsall.

“We have got a couple of decisions to make on the trialists and we may well do that after Saturday,” added Johnson. “We may extend the trials or release the players.”

David Mellor, still recovering from a knee operation, and Jack Truelove, who missed most of last season with a cruciate and medial knee ligaments injury, are set to miss tomorrow’s match.

The skipper’s armband remains up for grabs, but Adam Lockwood has been handed the role of club captain for next season. Johnson is to split official leadership duties on and off the pitch, and hasn’t yet made a decision about the captain on the field.

THREE former Athletic players were in Europa League first qualifying round action last night. Adam Rooney scored twice as Aberdeen trounced nine-man Daugava Riga 5-0 at Pittodrie, with the visitors’ line-up including ex-Boundary Park prospect Edijs Joksts.

And Cliff Byrne kept a clean sheet as Derry City were 4-0 winners over 10-man Aberystwyth Town at Brandywell Stadium.