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Page last updated at 10:17 GMT, Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Martinez hails 'catalyst' Allen

Joe Allen
Allen has represented Wales at under-17, under-19 and under-21 level

Roberto Martinez hailed teenager Joe Allen's "mature" performance to inspire Swansea's comeback against Barnsley.

Jason Scotland's double rescued a point for the Swans at The Liberty Stadium on Tuesday but Martinez said 18-year-old substitute Allen was their "catalyst."

"He changed the game," the Swans boss said after Swansea's 2-2 draw.

"Joe was the catalyst, he showed a lot of maturity and wanted to affect the game when he came on and that is a huge strength for a young player."

Martinez is desperately seeking a ball-playing midfielder to replace injured talisman Ferrie Bodde, who will miss the rest of the season with a cruciate knee ligament injury.

And if Allen is able to reproduce his impressive 32-minute cameo against Barnsley consistently, the Swansea manager might have found a ready-made stand-in for Bodde.

The rookie Swans playmaker is highly-rated by Wales youth guru Brian Flynn and is widely regarded as a regular Wales senior international of the future.

Now after a successful loan spell at non-league Wrexham and due to Bodde's unfortunate injury, Martinez may give Allen a chance to fulfil his huge potential.

Martinez said: "He showed the maturity with his first ball when he came on because it didn't go his way, but he passed a great test of character to win the second ball.

"He dictated with some of his play and passing.

"He has taken his technical ability to a different level since I gave him his debut, he has become a different player."

Allen made his Swansea debut just two months after his 17th birthday and he has been a promising regular in Flynn's Wales under-21 side.

"It is flattering to hear people say I inspired the comeback," Allen said.

"But I think everyone played better towards the end of the game because when we went two goals down, the pressure was off us."

Allen has played just 34 minutes of Championship football for Swansea this term but he did raise eyebrows with his loan stint at Wrexham, which was cut short due to ankle trouble.

And Allen said his time in the Blue Square Premier side has aided his development.

"The Swansea squad is so strong, games were difficult to come by here," he said.

"So I thought it would be a good experience to go to Wrexham and their coaches helped me a lot and I'm grateful for that."

And Allen's performance at the Liberty Stadium helped earn the Swans their fourth successive league draw.

Allen said: "When you are two goals down going into the end of the game, to come back, in a way, I suppose it is almost like we won.

"But we must start turning draws into wins and start picking up a few points."

Swansea have not won in five league games, the worst winless run since Martinez took over in the Liberty Stadium hotseat in February 2007, but the League One champions are still 11th in the table.

Scotland's brace earned praised from Allen who said: "He scored two crackers.

"Everyone knows how good he is and Jason's two goals shows that he can create goals out of nothing."

The Swans, though, did suffer an injury blow against Barnsley as winger Mark Gower sustained a calf strain after hobbling off in the 32nd minute.

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see also
Swansea 2-2 Barnsley
09 Dec 08 |  Championship

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