BROWNE ON THE BALL: There’s no doubting Thomas. Jack’s the lad for Boston United

Jack Thomas.
Jack Thomas.

Brendan Rodgers can be something of a divisive character in the world of football, but surely we must all agree that the former Swansea and Liverpool manager is the master of a memorable soundbite.

And this week the man behind such crackers as ‘my biggest mentor is myself because I’ve had to study and that’s been my biggest influence’ and ‘I will leave no stone unturned in my quest – and that quest will be relentless’ delivered another pearler through those glistening white teeth.

“You have to be careful with young players,” he mused.

“I say to them here that it’s very easy to walk around with the Louis Vuitton soap bag.

“But when you walk out of here, don’t tell people you play for Celtic.

“No, you are training with Celtic. You are playing for Celtic when you are in the first team.”

Jack Thomas.

Jack Thomas.

On the one hand, his words must feel like a kick in the swingers for many associated with the club; making youth teamers, their hard-working coaches, club scouts and many other employees on the periphery at Celtic Park feel as if they’re just there to make up the numbers.

But on the flipside, his point is valid in a sport where there are more impressive Twitter bios than stand-out players, especially up to under 23 level where you can be a video game star without ever showering in the first-team’s dressing room.

And for that reason I always have a sense of trepidation when a youngster from a higher-league club arrives at Boston United on loan.

Undoubtedly, the kids are always talented.

Max Stryjek.

Max Stryjek.

The problem is that they often lack the know-how, strength and confidence needed to be a game changer at this level, where the pitches aren’t perfect and the opposition are unforgiving, horrible swines.

In come players who will, one day, be too good for the Pilgrims.

But, at the time when Boston need them to be exceptional, they just haven’t collected the right tools.

For every Max Stryjek or Liam Agnew there’s a dozen who-was-he-agains, the right players here at the wrong time.

And that brings me to Jack Thomas.

What a delight that the Mansfield Town midfielder has been a breath of fresh air since his arrival to the Jakemans Stadium.

Yes, he has first team experience in the Football League and isn’t just an academy kid used to perfect pitches, where the emphasis is on development rather than results.

But in his short spell with United he has already looked the business; at home on the ball, the right side of cocky but confident enough to twist, turn and torment much more weathered opponents.

He doesn’t shirk a tackle, his pass-and-move game has brought out an extra dimension in his attacking teammates and he has the energy to go box-to-box with more gusto than a contestant on Deal or No Deal.

I don’t know whether Thomas earns enough to own a Louis Vuitton washbag, but he has already earned the right to tell people he more-than trains with Boston United.