Barker urges Skelem to “stay focused”

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Stellenbosch head coach Steve Barker has encouraged winger Lelethu Skelem to keep his mind on raising his game in order to regain his place in the starting XI amid reports linking the star with a move to Kaizer Chiefs.

Although Skelem has suffered a dip in form this season, he remains among the most in-demand players in the DStv Premiership and is reported to have attracted interest from Chiefs.

However, Barker has told Skelem to focus on the job at hand at ‘Stellies’ and not let the “noise” get into his head.

“We don’t let noise get too much in the way of things,” said Barker, who started Skelem on the bench for this his fifth consecutive match at the weekend against Mamelodi Sundowns.

“Lelethu has got to stay focused, keep working hard. He’s committed to the club. He just needs to continue working to get back to the [starting] XI,’’ said Barker of Skelem.

Chiefs’ current Fifa transfer ban ends in June and the Soweto giants will be expected to sign several new players and Skelem is reportedly one of those players.

“I think firstly, it’s managing the person that’s important before the player. Lelethu has had a lot of challenges of late, so we’re here to support him,’’ added the Stellenbosch coach.

“He’s our player until the end of the season and beyond. So, it’s just about giving him the confidence, to keep developing, to keep growing and become a footballer we know he can be for us.’’

Barker’s team suffered a 2-1 defeat at the hands of Sundowns in their most recent game and they are currently ninth in the DStv Premiership standings with 21 points after 19 matches.

“Results like these are difficult to take, but we have to be proud of the commitment shown by our players. We played some quality football,” concluded Barker.

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By Tokelo Martin Mokhesi

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