Date: 1st November 2013 at 9:46pm
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Manager Lee Johnson has hailed the impact of James Tarkowski this season after identifying him as a huge miss – even at his tender age – in the loss to Notts County.

Speaking to the Official Site Johnson said Oldham need more leaders like Tarkowski on the pitch and he needs players to step up in the way the 20 year old has done this season and start leading by example.

He even goes as far as saying that despite the centre half being only 20 years old, he is the perfect role model for the squad which lacks natural leaders on the pitch.

‘Tarky is an example for others to follow, the likes of David Mellor, Kirk Millar and Carl Winchester. They should all look up to him as he has taken on that leadership role. We have helped him, but he has done it himself. He still has a lot to learn, but he is going the right way.’

Tarks started the season from memory looking to make in and around 20 appearances for the club and for him that would’ve been progress, so he must be absolutely chuffed with how he has begun the campaign on a personal note, especially with how important he has become for our gaffer in recent months, and it does make you wonder what type of player he might be in five years time as I’m sure every fan can pick out something different that he can still improve on when it comes to his game.

Speaking to the press previously, although it’s repeated in the OS’s article, Johnson did say that his absence against County ‘stood out like a sore thumb’ but he added that given the player turned up when he could’ve stayed at home warm, shows exactly the type of character he is and how seriously he is taking the position of leader in the dressing room now, and Johnson adds he more than did his part at half time in attempting to rally the lads to a positive result which is fantastic to hear from any player – let alone one so young.

‘That’s why he is a class act and why he will step straight back into the team on Saturday.’

The challenge for Johnson clearly is to find more leaders on the pitch and help them develop into the role also because even though he knows we have a young side, he knows they have to develop an on pitch character to see them through things. The talent is definitely there, and once the character and confidence comes through he feels we really will be a good side, but he’d give anything if he could fast forward that particular development.

Adding that players develop differently, and find themselves at different times in their career and age isn’t always the catalyst. An 18 year old can be a ‘man’ on the pitch, whereas a 25 year old can simply still be a player – joking that if he knew the secret to turning a boy into a man he would be a multi millionaire.