Tranmere Rovers remain keen to take a cautious approach as they guide Dale Jennings through the first few months of his exposure to first-team football.
Still a second-year Apprentice, Jennings broke into Rovers starting line-up in September and his performances have seen dozens of scouts from Premier League and Championship Clubs flocking to Prenton Park to assess his talents.
The 17 year old’s electric pace, ability to go past defenders on either side, shoot with either foot and play perceptive passes mark him out as a prospect of exciting potential.
Many Rovers fans have already started to compare the youngster with former favourite Jason Koumas.
Like at the start of Koumas’ career, Jennings has already caught the eye of a number of big Clubs with Everton, Liverpool, Bolton, Sunderland, Fulham, West Bromwich Albion, Middlesbrough and Watford all thought to be interested in the youngster.
However, Rovers Manager Les Parry and his coaching staff are doing their best to keep Jennings focused on playing and how to cope with those days when everything doesn’t go right. Parry said:
“Dale is a lad of 17 who has bounced into senior football over the last few months. Lads like that need help, need nurturing and need to be taken out of the team at the right time.”
“Through his short career, Dale has sometimes become a little bit frustrated when things are not going for him. It is something we have recognised since he was 16.”
“He’s always been a talent but he has always been a player with the potential to go out of the game. It’s something we have discussed.”
Parry added: “The same thing happens with a lot of young players. Ash Taylor started very well when he first came into our team. But opponents learn about them and make things more difficult for them. Their form can take a dip.”
“I thought about resting Dale for our Johnstone’s Paint Trophy game against Huddersfield. We decided to start with him because we felt he might have produced something that would help us get through to the next round. But it’s something we are paying attention to.”
Parry says Jennings is being encouraged to play his natural game. “We tell him to enjoy himself,” Parry said. “We say, don’t be uptight and just do the things you are good at.”
However, the Tranmere coaching staff want Jennings to address a tendency to fall to the ground when challenged.
“I think Dale needs to stay on his feet more,” Parry said. “It’s a part of his game he needs to work on.”
Parry and his coaching staff have kept Jennings away from the media spotlight, leaving the Liverpool-born youngster to do his talking with his feet.
Head of youth Shaun Garnett, who worked with Jennings throughout his development with Tranmere, believes this approach is the right one. Garnett said:
“It is very important we keep Dale’s feet on the ground and the gaffer has managed that very well. Dale has been allowed to concentrate purely on his football and his performances for the first team.”
“I think that’s important. I think if you look back, we all learned a lot from Alex Ferguson and how he brought through the likes of Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes at Manchester United when they were very young players.”
“I think that’s the way to do it. When they are young lads, let them concentrate on the football. The media side of their careers will happen later on.”