JOSH Vela went headlong into a relegation scrap with Notts County yesterday with a glowing recommendation from his manager at Wanderers.
Dougie Freedman has sent the combative young midfielder out to help his old Crystal Palace team-mate Shaun Derry, who is trying to lift the Magpies out of the bottom four in League One.
And the Scot has no doubt that it is an arrangement that can suit both parties perfectly.
“Whether they are at the bottom of the league or not isn’t my issue,” he said.
“I have to think of the club and this is a chance to get Josh playing some proper league football.
“He’ll be in the trenches, so let’s see what he’s made of.
“This decision is all about his development because if I was thinking of myself then I’d keep him around to sit in the stands, or on the bench, and try and get him games here or there.
“But where Josh is right now he needs to show he can handle games, so the best thing for our football club and for the lad himself is to get out there and see how he handles himself.”
Vela, rated by many at the club as the best talent to have come through the Academy system in recent years, has played just twice this season in the cup competitions. But Freedman, who has praised the 20-year-old’s attitude in recent weeks as he put in a string of dominant performances for Jamie Fullarton’s development squad, believes he can return to figure in his first-team plans.
“When I came to the football club I’d heard great things about Josh but he’s not quite fulfilled his potential,” he said.
“There are many reasons for that but the main one was that he had a knee problem that meant he couldn’t train at an intensity that allowed him to play 15-20-25 games in a long season.
“That’s the reason I had to go and buy Medo Kamara in that position.
“Those little injuries were just making it difficult for him but we did exactly the same thing as we did with David Wheater and pulled him out, put him on an intensive fitness programme, and he’s playing fantastically well for the Under-21s now. It wasn’t an easy decision to send him out.”