So what's going on with Wes Baynes then? He's managed, in the space of one day, to promise to knuckle down and fight for his place, hand in a transfer request and apparently offend Dean Saunders!
It's an odd story, and hard to work out just what's going on. In The Leader Baynes says he's going to get his head down and work for his place, although he's the man in possession as he played in our last game, against Woking.
Yet by the time of his transfer request he's complaining he should be given a chance in the team. Let's trace back his recent appearances then; he was a regular under Saunders until the win at Stevenage, when he had a poor game and was subbed at half time. That was Saunders' seventh league game in charge, and Baynes featured in every one of them. He was then injured and returned for the Woking game, which as far as I can work out was the first one he was available for once he was fit again.
So why is he frustrated at not getting a chance? Has someone expressed an interest in him? Is his agent agitating for a move?
If it's the latter he's being poorly advised, I'd suggest. Looking round the Conference I don't see too many better young talents than him, and he has a chance to gain valuable experience at the heart of a side pushing for promotion, under a coach who appears to place a lot of importance in what happens on the training ground, and who has excellent facilities at Colliers Park at his disposal.
Saunders' comments are consistent with how the situation appears from the outside. He knows ability when he sees it, and has not only consistently picked Baynes but has made the most of his delivery from set pieces. We look more organised from dead ball plays than we have done for a long time and Saunders isn't stupid; he recognises the crucial role Baynes plays in that.
I hope this gets sorted out the right way, although Saunders' comments in The Post don't necessarily sound promising. Baynes is only just twenty, and the club's the right place for him to develop. I remember Neil Wainwright making a fine initial impression, being badly advised and leaving too soon, only to go backwards on the fringes of Sunderland Reserves when he should have been developing in the first team at The Racecourse.
From a selfish point of view it would clearly be for the best for us if he stayed, and most importantly of all, he's my lad's favourite player and we bought him an away shirt with his name on it for Christmas. If he leaves I'm billing him for the replacement; if I get Williams on the back of that one we should be pretty safe-we've got dozens of them!