Martin Allen: “It’s not a headache – it’s a challenge”
Martin Allen says it is a challenge, rather than a headache, to pick his Barnet team while players continue to push for involvement.
Shaun Batt, Mauro Vilhete and Ben Tomlinson have all been handed starts in recent games and taken their opportunities with both hands.
A number of the Bees’ homegrown players – including Harry Taylor and Justin Amaluzor – are also pushing for a starting berth leaving Allen with plenty of options for the visit of Colchester United on Saturday (kick-off 3pm).
"It’s not a headache – it’s a challenge," Allen explained prior to training on Thursday. "It’s a headache when you haven’t got any players because they are all injured or rubbish.
"That is when I don’t sleep, trust me, and it’s a horrible feeling. When you’ve got good players you sleep easily.
"It’s not easy telling some of the players they aren’t starting or aren’t a sub – or even in the squad. I don’t enjoy that moment but it’s better to have it that way than the other way.
"I think about changing things every game – always have done, always will do," he continued.
"I pick different teams to win different games. I see different people in training and sometimes people have injuries or knocks, it’s part of the business I’m in.
"It wouldn’t be right to say: ‘We played well last week, I’ll keep the same team.’ There’s different ways to play and all these players are adaptable and we should all enjoy that."
Barnet have three short-term absentees in defenders Bira Dembele and Sam Muggleton, as well as exciting young attacker Amaluzor. And there was encouraging news ahead of training at The Hive regarding the trio.
"They are doing OK," said Allen. "Bira Dembele will have a fitness test this morning and Sam Muggleton will be fit to play, but Justin Amaluzor isn’t ready just yet."
Saturday’s opponents Colchester are in the fourth tier for the first time since 1998. But they U’s have made a bright start under new boss John McGreal and sit fifth in League Two with four wins from seven games.
"It’s a good club, Colchester," said Allen. "Sadly history means nothing in football. What you did five, ten or 20 years ago means nothing.
"If you get it wrong it can be disastrous. Portsmouth were playing in Europe a few years ago but things change so quickly and now they are in League Two.
"People say clubs ‘don’t deserve’ to be at this level. But they do because they have made the wrong business decisions, the wrong choices with players and the wrong choices with managers so they end up in the bottom league.
"The Colchester chairman, Robbie Cowling, decided a few years ago that he was going to have a very good academy and give their young players a chance and I’m sure in the next few years they will bear the fruit of that decision."
In fact, Allen sees similarities between the Essex side’s success with homegrown players and Barnet’s own production line of talent.
"They really have got some very good young players that they have brought through over the last few years," said the Bees boss.
"I see their model as being similar to where we are going with our young players who are breaking through.
"John McGreal has done a really good job; they are fifth in the league and they will be expected to be right up there in the play-offs or challenging for automatic promotion."