Defender Niall Canavan urged to stay positive after being dropped to Scunthorpe United bench for game against Coventry City
NIALL Canavan has been challenged to use his frustration at dropping out of the Scunthorpe United starting XI in positive fashion.
The 21-year-old defender has failed to feature in only six matches this season – and for five of those he has been an unused substitute.
He was relegated to the bench for Saturday’s 2-1 defeat to Coventry City following the return from illness of club captain Paul Reid, ending a run of 21 consecutive appearances dating back to the beginning of November.
Manager Brian Laws said he made that decision because the Iron were giving a league debut to rookie goalkeeper Eirik Holmen Johansen and he wanted as much experience in front of the Manchester City loanee.
But he urged Canavan not to lose heart, wise advice given the amount of time Reid and David Mirfin have spent out of the side this season.
“It was nice to have a selection dilemma, for sure. It’s been a long time since I’ve had to make a decision like that,” said Laws.
“Niall has done really well, I have to say, in his defence.
“But I wanted a more experienced back four against a good side and also because of the fact we had a young keeper (Johansen) coming in.
“I think it was the right decision. It was a very difficult one to make, but I thought it was right for this particular game.
“Both centre halves were gutted after the game because Clarkey (former Iron loan striker Leon Clarke, who netted the Sky Blues’ winning goal) was given an opportunity to score when I thought they’d handled him really well.”
With only three recognised centre-halves at the Iron’s disposal, Canavan has played more football this season than he has in the previous two-and-a-half years of his Scunthorpe career, which saw him make his league debut in the Championship, against Laws’ Sheffield Wednesday, in August 2009.
Although still prone to errors, which have often been punished by the opposition, the United boss believes the Yorkshireman has made plenty of progress as the campaign has unfolded.
Laws added: “Many a time when he’s played in previous seasons, every time he made a mistake he was out of the side. He was never able to recover from it.
“We’ve said to him that he’s got to play through those periods when you’re making mistakes and you’ve got to learn from them.
“I think, to be fair, he’s become a better defender for it
“We’ve all got to remember he’s still very, very young. He’s been here a long time, but he’s not played enough games on the bounce.
“I think he’s improving really, really well.
“He’ll be disappointed to have not been in the side on Saturday – all players want to be playing.
“But I hope he turns his disappointment into a positive.”