LEE CLARK believes soccer is an 18-man game these days – and that’s music to the ears of Theo Robinson.
Like all players, the former Watford striker would rather start a match, but if he can make an impact from the bench, that’s good news too.
He couldn’t manage it at Charlton Athletic last Saturday, when he replaced Jordan Rhodes with 14 minutes of normal time remaining.
Now he’s focused on helping Town defeat Leyton Orient at the Galpharm tomorrow (3.00), whatever role he’s handed by the boss.
Even though only three of them can be used, Clark was delighted by the increase from five to seven substitutes on the teamsheet this season.
It means he can cover more bases with his selection, and he says those coming off the bench can be just as crucial to the outcome as those who are replaced.
“There’s a bit of a British mentality about being a substitute or being subbed,” said the Galpharm boss.
“When players don’t start a game or are taken off, it’s not necessarily a reaction to them or the way they have been playing.
“It can often be down to the way we want to approach a particular game, or that we want to change things round tactically while a game is in progress.
“I was delighted with the way Gary Roberts and Lee Novak had played down at Charlton.
“But I wanted to try something different, so I brought on Theo and Lionel Ainsworth.”
Robinson, who along with Ainsworth and the other five on the bench at The Valley was handed a sharpener with the reserves this week, said: “We have a strong squad here. The manager has made it clear we all have a contribution to make, and that’s been good to hear.”
The Birmingham-born 20-year-old has netted eight goals in eight starts and six outings as a sub since moving from Vicarage Road.
And he added: “I came here to play first-team football, and I’m getting the chance, so I have no complaints.
“With the number of strikers we have, you know that you have to take your opportunity when it comes, and if that’s from the bench, so be it.”
Robinson, who has had loan spells at Hereford United and Southend United in past seasons, will be chasing a 32nd career goal in his first outing against Orient.
And he says the showdown can’t come quickly enough, explaining: “We’re desperate to make up for not beating Charlton.
“To lose (2-1) was really disappointing, because we had a real go at them and created a large number of chances.
“As the manager said, if we do that week in, week out, we’ll win far more than we lose, so let’s go out and prove him right.”