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SWINDON TOWN: Great expectations
JOHN Bostock has insisted that he relishes the “high expectations” placed on him by Swindon Town manager Paolo Di Canio.
The Tottenham loanee made his first start of the season for the Robins in the 2-2 draw with Coventry last weekend, sitting in the hole behind striker Paul Benson.
After just two substitute appearances in the best part of six weeks since he joined Town at the end of August, you could forgive the former Crystal Palace playmaker for becoming agitated at his lack of chances in a red shirt.
But the truth is very different.
Instead Bostock, a softly-spoken 20-year-old whose evident talents were first brought to national attention four years ago when Spurs shelled out £700,000 for his services, is more than happy to live and learn at the County Ground.
He may be on loan from a Premiership juggernaut, but Bostock is grounded.
He understands he will never walk straight into Di Canio’s starting XI, despite the Italian heaping praise on his abilities with ball at feet, and he has taken the recent open criticism of what his boss perceives as a selfish element to his game with good grace.
“The manager here has expectations on the striker, because that is the finishing area of the pitch,” he told the Advertiser.
“If I am called to play here I will be ready, especially as the manager here has played that position before.
“It is good because he has high expectations of me, and he has told me that I have good talent, but now I have to match that ability with work rate and desire, and all the other things.
“He says I have a certain amount of ability, but he is not satisfied just with that and he wants the rest of it as well.
“He is encouraging me and giving me advice, and I appreciate that, and I just want to repay him on Saturday.”
With Alan Navarro sidelined for at least a month with a medial ligament injury and Giles Coke back at Sheffield Wednesday nursing a foot problem, Bostock has quickly become Di Canio’s third-choice option in the middle of the park behind Simon Ferry and Tommy Miller.
It is not a position the Town manager sees Bostock occupying until he has conquered some of his instinctive qualities, but the player himself believes he can add an extra dimension at the heart of midfield or behind a lone striker if required.
“At Tottenham they are more interested in my personal development as they are my home club, so I have played in all sorts of positions such as central midfielder striker and number 10,” he said.
“I have played in a few positions for them but the most important thing is for me to be playing competitive football instead of in the reserves.
“My favourite position is central midfield or just behind the striker.
“It is a big responsibility being the higher striker because you are the person the rest of the team looks for goals.
“We did some shape work a couple of days before the game and the manager put me up front with Benno, so I had an idea I might be close to playing.
“But you never really know until the team is named at 1.30pm, so like the manager says you always have to be ready.
“He wants Benno to be the higher striker and then me to be dropping off and coming a little bit deeper, and I really enjoying playing there even though I am still learning my game.
“I would enjoy playing anywhere but that is my preferred position.”
Despite a busy week off the field at SN1, with the change of chairman capturing all the headlines, Bostock stressed that the Town players have not been affected.
And instead they are targeting a return to top form on home turf when Scunthorpe come calling this weekend.
“I don’t know too much about what has happened, but is does go around the changing room amongst the lads.,” said Bostock. “But at the end of the day we have a job to do and everything still is the same as you have to work hard to play.
“That is all we are focusing on and whatever happens off the pitch stays off the pitch, all we are focusing on is getting results.
“We have been close to getting a run of wins, but the manager has been saying to us it is important to win at home because you can never know what can happen in any game.
“At the end of the game on Saturday we should have won with the chances we had, so hopefully this weekend we can put it right.”