Mumba Progress Report

Jack Ross has given an update on the progress of Bali Mumba, who hasn’t featured in the first team set up since January’s Checkatrade win over Newcastle United Under-21s. “I think last season, circumstances dictated that he was very much thrown in at the deep end,” said Jack Ross. “He trained with me pretty much every day last season. He went straight from school, so he actually missed out on being involved with a lot of the players around his own age and even judging himself against them. So, we made a conscious decision to let him enjoy that, but he trained with me last week. He’s not the only one we take over at times, Dan Neil is another young one who comes over. He’s still in and around what we do, but the bulk of his work is with Elliott’s group and I think that’s important for him because he’s still a very young man. He’s still in our thoughts though. Probably the only reason he wasn’t involved against Burnley (in the second round of the Carabao Cup) was positionally. We had a lot of players playing in similar parts of the park to him either starting or on the bench.”

Chances are Bali will be loaned out come January, but Ross is still deliberating over his strongest position! “I’m not sure at the moment where he’ll end up playing,” said Ross. “I think it’s a challenge for Elliott and Michael (Proctor) because we’ve had conversations about making sure we identify that and making him the best he can possibly be in that area. I know they’ve been pleased with how he’s performed at full-back recently and he played there earlier in his academy career. There’s a trust in them at the moment because they see him a lot more than I do and they’re working a lot closer with him, but my opinion of him as a young footballer has never changed. Watching him again in training last week, he’s got brilliant attributes and I like him. He’s an asset to the football club and he’ll go on to have a good career as long as he keeps doing what he’s doing because his desire to get better is really good. There’s pros and cons to tying him down to a position at this age. The benefit is learning something inside out, the cons are you might restrict his ability and his first-team opportunities. If you’re a midfielder and you’ve got four first-team midfielders at first-team level all playing well, it’s really difficult. If you can also play as a winger and there’s only one winger ahead of you, you might get your opportunity. Versatility, particularly in the modern game, can be an advantage, but equally we have to make sure he learns how to play a position or more than one position well.”