• Rovers midfielder makes rapid progress after breaking leg

Rovers midfielder makes rapid progress after breaking leg

The fact Napier City Rovers midfielder Luca Barclay is playing Central League football while still at secondary school is an achievement in itself.

But the fact the 17-year-old Havelock North High School Year 13 student is playing at this level 12 months after breaking his right leg while playing for Havelock North Wanderers in the Central Federation League adds significance to the feat.

"I resumed training on my own in the New Year and got into things properly during Rovers pre-season training ... I couldn't be happier with how things are going," Barclay said in the countdown to Thirsty Whale Napier City Rovers fourth round clash against Petone at Bluewater Stadium on Sunday.

"It's definitely a higher level than I've experienced in the past and it was hard to get used to. But I had 20 minutes off the bench in each of the first two matches and 45 in last weekend's loss to Wairarapa United," Barclay (pictured above) recalled.

"I want to try and get on for the full 90 before the end of the season," Barclay said.

While centre-mid is Barclay's preferred position he is happy to play any role. He first played for Rovers as a four-year-old and after that first season all of his footy was with the Wanderers before returning to the Blues this year.

He is confident Rovers can crack a top-three finish this season and earn a berth in the new-look New Zealand Football Championship next summer.

"You are going to have slip ups like we had last weekend [a 5-0 loss to Wairarapa United] but it's important we come back stronger," Barclay explained.

Like most of the teens in the Rovers squad, Barclay, is eying a professional career in the future. If he doesn't end up in the United States next year he will be leaving the Bay for university studies.  

Blues head coach and centre back Bill Robertson is rapt with the progress Barclay is making. He pointed out another of the club's promising midfielders, Sam Wall, started against Wairarapa United in his first outing of the season after recovering from an ankle strain.

Experienced attacking midfielder Cameron Emerson returns to the squad this week after serving a one game suspension last weekend after being red carded the previous week.

The winless Petone side are captained by last summer's Hawke's Bay United midfielder Sam Pickering. This is a must-win clash for the hosts in their quest for a top-three finish.   

The full Napier City Rovers squad for Sunday's 2pm clash is:
Oscar Mason (GK), Liam Schofield, Luca Barclay, Isaac Belcher, Tai Barham, Sam Wall, Cameron Emerson, Zac Madsen, Kailan Gould, Ethan Ladd, Josh Stevenson, Jim Hoyle (captain), Fergus Neil, Luke Minshull, Bill Robertson, Ben Wade, Reon Werahiko (GK). 

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