Livingston boss David Martindale has opened up on the decision to substitute Aston Villa loanee Caleb Chukwuemeka only seven minutes after bringing him on during the win over Aberdeen at the weekend – and insists the youngster will make his mark at the Tony Macaroni Arena.
Chukwuemeka came on with seven minutes left on Saturday as Livi sat a goal up and with a down after Christian Montano was shown a second yellow card.
However, after a saunter around the pitch, he was quickly replaced as Livingston made sure they picked up a vital three points, with Martindale admitting the Aston Villa loanee is “learning the hard way” at the moment.
After ringing endorsements from the likes of Aston Villa boss Steven Gerrard and Scotland midfielder John McGinn, Martindale is confident Chukwuemeka will show exactly what he is capable of at Livingston in the coming months.
“I ask the players to do the dirty side of the game and that’s what Caleb needs to work on,” Martindale said.
“I’m putting a lot of demands on him because I want him playing well for Livingston and going back to Aston Villa as a better football player.
“Ability is not in question, he’s absolutely frightening, if a little bit raw.
“Marvin (Bartley, Livi assistant manager) had spoken to John McGinn and I’d spoken to Steven Gerrard about him. When you’re getting glowing feedback from people of that stature, you listen.
“He’s got all the raw attributes and I do believe we’ll get the best out of him but he’s unfortunately learning the hard way just now.
“Maybe I need to take a portion of the blame for Saturday. In hindsight, did I have to put him on? Probably not.
“But then in my defence, I wasn’t wanting him to go on and bully the full-backs.
“I was just wanting endeavour and work-rate and that was missing – I think that was plain to see.
“You had Omeonga, Pittman, and Holt trying to shut down full-backs then having to drop back in to midfield when we were down to 10 men.
“When he came up, he was to be a no.9. That’s what Aston Villa want him to be and that’s what I was signing but I’ve had lots of conversations with Caleb and he probably sees himself more as a wide player.
“So straight away the profile changes. I was sitting on the bench and I put him on because Joel Nouble wasn’t available.
“Bruce Anderson has played a lot of football and it’s always on the back of my mind that he’s diabetic and maybe his energy levels drop a wee bit quicker and impact him more than others so I needed a no.9.
“That’s why Caleb went on the park and it didn’t work out but I believe he will show his capabilities at this football club.”
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