Josh Laurent can be a key man for us – Shrewsbury boss Sam Ricketts
Sam Ricketts has backed natural talent Josh Laurent to fulfil his potential and become a key player for Shrewsbury Town.
The Meadow boss believes Laurent, 24, is coming of age and discovering the physical and technical ability he possesses.
It is believed there were approaches for the midfielder, signed from Wigan last year, turned down earlier this summer, and Ricketts has high hopes for the London-born star.
Laurent fought back from a muscle injury sustained in the summer to impress from the bench in the opening-day victory against Portsmouth – only to injure his quad.
But he returned to training this week and is in contention to face Burton Albion this afternoon.
Ricketts foresees a big season for the midfielder. The boss said: “He’s got the potential to be whatever he wants to be.
“He’s tall, athletic, he can handle the ball, if you look at the key characteristics of what good players have to have he’s got them.
“You don’t have to be tall to be a good player, but it helps. He’s got that. He can run.
“You don’t have to run (strongly) but it helps.
“He’s got an awful lot of things which you can’t buy. You’re born with that height, you’re born with that running ability.”
Ricketts believes Laurent is maturing into a footballer who understands the ability he possesses.
The midfielder made 42 appearances in the league last season, but just 29 of them were starts. He scored four times, a factor Ricketts has acknowledged must be improved.
“He’s got ability on the ball as well and he’s going to be growing. He’s a young lad who is just starting to understand what his game is – what are his key strengths, what makes him play well and stand out,” Ricketts added.
“Every player is different. Ollie Norburn can hit 60-yard diagonals nine times out of 10 to the player’s foot. Is that Josh’s main skill? No.
“But he can run and get on second balls and drive with the team. He’s got so much potential and opportunity that, if he grasps it, he’ll probably get in anyone’s team in this league.
“He started a fair amount for me (last season). All players develop at different times.
“He’s getting to that age now where an awful lot of players develop.
“He was very good for 40 minutes against Portsmouth.
“Then he got a niggle. When he gets back in can he do it again and again and again? That’ll be the defining period.”