Leam Richardson may be ready to blood a Rotherham United home-grown talent

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ROTHERHAM United could give youngster Ben Hatton his league debut before the close of their Championship relegation campaign.

The youth-team prospect won't officially join the senior ranks as a rookie professional until next season but has already spent time training with the first team.

The promising attacker had made the bench for the last three games and, now that the drop has been confirmed, boss Leam Richardson is considering handing the 18-year-old an opportunity.

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"You'd hope so,” the head coach replied when the Advertiser asked him if Hatton may receive a run-out during the final few fixtures.

Ben Hatton signs the deal that will see him join Rotherham United's first-team group permanently next season.Ben Hatton signs the deal that will see him join Rotherham United's first-team group permanently next season.
Ben Hatton signs the deal that will see him join Rotherham United's first-team group permanently next season.

Richardson has a track record of giving young talent the green light during his 15 years in coaching and management.

“At my last couple of clubs, Portsmouth and Wigan Athletic, we promoted 20/30-plus academy players into the first team and some of them now having very good careers,” he said.

“Encouraging youth is something I'm very in favour of. If they're good enough, they're old enough.”

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Hatton, is preparing to make the leap to full-time football with academy teammate Josh Ayres who has also signed a pro contract. Both have rubbed shoulders with the main group but it's the former who has been involved recently on matchdays.

“It's important Ben gets ahead of the game and can start introducing himself to the players and to myself,” Richardson said. “He can hear certain information. It means he can start a couple of steps ahead of what he might otherwise do.

“He's had some real plaudits from the academy staff. At a club like ours, you've got to work in tandem with the youth set-up.”

The boss is aware of not asking too much too soon and will put Hatton on the pitch only if he's sure the teenager will benefit from the experience.

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“I'm very mindful that you can stop someone's career before it starts,” he said. “We've got to give him the best chance to give the best account of himself and grow from there.

“That will come from training with the lads and the demands we put on him. He's at the start of his journey. We want to help that, not hinder it.”

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