FA Cup: Kaloczi receives high praise from City management

James Kaloczi has stepped into the heart of City's defence amid injuries to Ben Martin and Darren Lo

James Kaloczi has stepped into the heart of City's defence amid injuries to Ben Martin and Darren Locke. Picture: Bob Walkley - Credit: Archant

James Kaloczi has been on the receiving end of high plaudits from St Albans City’s management team after a string of excellent performances at the heart of the Saints defence.

The 18-year-old former Beaumont School student has been thrust into the limelight in recent games: against Hitchin he replaced the injured Darren Locke after 30 minutes and against Billericay he was introduced 10 minutes into the game as Ben Martin struggled with his hamstring.

On both occasions he showed a maturity that belies his age, heading clear any danger, putting in challenges and distributing the ball well.

With Martin still suffering from injury and Ryan Wharton suspended for Saturday’s game, Kaloczi may be called upon to start for City against League Two’s Mansfield Town.

Joint manager Graham Golds told the Herts Ad he hasn’t been surprised by the youngster’s performances.

“James is really coming of age – we need to keep a lid on him and not let him get carried away but he’s doing a great job, you can’t fault him,” he said.

“I’ve managed him since he was at U11. He was a central midfielder back then, hence why he has such good feet, but he physically outgrew the position.

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“We told him to reach the higher levels he would need to prove himself as a centre back, so that’s what he’s done. He’s only played the position for two years so he’s learning and getting better all the time.”

Kaloczi has worked his way through the youth ranks at the club, earning a place in the U18 side before forcing his way into the first-team action last season.

And while his appearances have been few and far between, there is little doubt within the City ranks that he has the potential to play professional football.

“He’s a young lad that I feel, if he gets his head down and works hard, could play professional football within the next couple of years,” said City’s first team coach Harry Wheeler.

“He plays when he’s allowed to play, wins his headers, wins his tackles and makes the right decisions – that’s what it takes to be a good footballer.”

Wheeler added: “James has shown glimpses of how good he will be in time. If he plays on Saturday it will be a test but he is more than capable of playing with a Football League side.”

City face Mansfield on Saturday at Clarence Park, 3pm kick-off.