JDT on Szmodics: 'He gave a good answer, no complaining'

Rovers attacker Sam Szmodics
Rovers attacker Sam Szmodics

Jon Dahl Tomasson says Sam Szmodics gave a good response to not being included in the last two matchday squads and dropping into the Under-21s for their win at Tottenham Hotspur.

Szmodics spent time out of the side with concussion, but then wasn’t involved against either Watford or Luton Town, instead playing for the Under-21s against Spurs while Rovers were in action at Kenilworth Road.

Tomasson received feedback on Szmodics’ performance, which included an early assist for Jared Harlock in the 3-2 win, and has praised his attitude in training during the international break.

Szmodics will hope to have done enough to win back his place in the squad and build on his six appearances so far, which included a goal on his debut at Swansea City.

Dilan Markanday is another member of the squad who has featured for the Under-21s this season, with summer signing Clinton Mola set to be involved in Saturday’s game with Manchester United.

Tomasson says players should see that as a chance to maintain fitness, rather than a slight on them, and said: “I try and give that message to the whole squad all the time.

“There’s a lot of competition, football is about competition, there will be 11 playing, a couple of substitutes, and as a coach you need to make those difficult decisions.

“As a human being it’s hard to disappoint people, but that’s football and regarding Sam he’s coping well with that.

“He did a good job at Tottenham and I got clips of all the players, so we have that connection with the youth department so we can develop that.

“He gave a good answer, no complaining, just getting on with the job. A good attitude.”

Under Tomasson, Rovers have switched the schedule of their Under-21s matches which now sees them play alongside the first-team on Saturdays.

But while he can’t be there in person, he says he keeps across each players’ performance for the Academy side.

He added: “All clips of all players, I watch everything and we also have meetings regarding that.”

Replaced at half time in the defeat to Reading, and then sustaining a concussion injury in the defeat to Stoke City, has made for a stop-start beginning to his Ewood Park career for 27-year-old Szmodics.

Yet Tomasson feels he has now acclimatised to life at his new club following his summer arrival from Peterborough United.

“It’s just keep working hard, doing the things I want to see, and in this period with the training sessions some players have been better than others, that’s why I’ve said that you always need to improving, whatever age, whatever quality, you always need to improve otherwise some younger players will catch up,” he explained.

“Sammie scored a goal in his first game, coping with a new style of play, a new club, it’s not that easy in the beginning.

“He’s more or less settled now and he’s improving, so I thought it was a period where he was maybe lacking a little bit, he was also unlucky a little bit, we shouldn’t forget that, with his head (injury).

“Football goes quick, it cost him a lost of time and maybe it cost him a little bit of time around the team and that’s football, that’s why you need to keep focused on the right thing.

“Not every player in the Championship will be playing every game, very few, so we need to use the squad.

“Now I think he’s on a level again.

“After his concussion, the motor needed to get restarted a little bit, and it’s for sure restarted in that way.”

Szmodics won’t be the last player to feature for the Under-21s, with Tomasson believing minutes for Mike Sheron’s side can be key to keeping players at full fitness for when their next opportunity with the senior side arises.

“I always think it’s better to stay fit when you play football, because if you’re not playing, or if you’re sitting in the stands or on the bench, you might be starting the next game because you need the whole squad, particularly with the programme we have.

“If you play with the Under-21s I try and create that mindset.

“I know it can be more difficult playing in the Under-21s, but they have a contract and they are here to help the team.”