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Development Squad

Johnson's praise for Joe

Under-23 head coach Damien delighted with Nuttall's display

16 August 2017

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Damien Johnson praised the performance of hat-trick hero Joe Nuttall in Rovers' 5-1 victory over Wolves on Monday night.

Playing his first competitive game for the club following his summer switch from Aberdeen, the 20-year-old striker scored from the spot in the first-half, before bagging a quickfire brace after the break.

Nuttall joined the club last month after impressing on trial in pre-season, during which time he netted six goals in three warm-up games, including another hat-trick on his first outing against AFC Darwen.

Since arriving at Brockhall, Johnson has been delighted with the powerful forward's attitude and application.

"He’s come in with a real hunger," said the Under-23s head coach. "He came in on trial and has a hunger to prove himself.

“He lost his way a little bit, we just gave him an opportunity and he was outstanding in terms of how he went about it and his attitude.

“Joe needs to keep that up because he has a lot of good attributes in terms of his pace, he’s a strong lad and he can finish.

“Those are definitely good attributes to have as a striker and it’s important he keeps working hard and keeps his focus.

“That’s what he’s had since he came in and he can’t lose that."

Nuttall had come through the youth ranks at Premier League giants Manchester City, before speding the past two seasons up in Scotland.

Johnson hopes the talented youngster can get his career back on track here at Ewood Park and believes the early signs are very encouraging.

“We know what happens, when you are at a big club like that and find it difficult, sometimes kids lose their way and can fall out of the game," he added.

“Joe now has the bit between his teeth, his attitude and work-rate has been great and he has a desire to improve.

“It’s a start for him and he has to continue."

Johnson also had words of praise for his two wing-backs - Lewis Travis, who played a key role in Rovers' opening two goals and was a thorn in Wolves' side throughout, and Jack Doyle, who made his first team debut for the club in last week's Carabao Cup success over Coventry City.

“Trav has been terrific all pre-season," added Johnson. "He's come back in great shape and he works extremely hard.

“We need to see that on a more consistent basis from him. That’s his challenge really because we know that he can do it.

“In that system he’s like our wide player, so he has to provide assists and chances and he did that.

“Jack is another one. He has a terrific attitude and works really hard.

“He’s had the taste now. The gaffer is really open-minded when it comes to the young lads and prepared to give them a chance.

“Ryan (Nyambe) has established himself, which is great to see, and the challenge is who’s going to be the next one.

“Debuts can come, but it’s about getting regular and consistent appearances and that’s what Jack’s challenge is – when is his next appearance and can he build on that?

“When he drops down, he has to keep showing that desire and attitude and work ethic to improve and get better and that goes for the whole group."

Rovers' Under-23s are back in Premier League 2 action this Friday afternoon when they take on Reading at the Royals' training ground, kick-off 1pm.

Fans should note that this game will be played behind closed doors.

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