KEVIN Blackwell has responded to Lenell John-Lewis’s plea for a regular starting berth by throwing down the gauntlet to the young striker.

The Bury manager says he will give the 23-year-old forward the chance he craves as soon as he puts in a consistently high level of performance, in training as well as in matches.

John-Lewis has only scored twice in 18 appearances this season, but injuries and inconsistency have restricted him to just four starts.

Yet he bossed the MK Dons back-line in Bury’s 1-1 draw last time out and urged his manager to allow him another chance to prove he can add goals to his all-round game.

“I thought he played very well (at MK Dons) and I thought he was a handful, what he’s got to do is do that week in and week out to make my mind up,” Blackwell countered.

“Not just in the game, he’s got to do it in training.

“That’s the question I ask the players. I’m not interested in seeing it in five minutes here or 10 minutes there.”

Blackwell has been frustrated by the inconsistent level of performances put in by the majority of his squad since taking over the hotseat in September.

Now the club’s transfer embargo has been lifted, he finally has the chance to bring in his own players, and has challenged the likes of John-Lewis to up their game or risk being shown the door.

“Someone said to me that we’ve got four or five players who can all do a job for 20 minutes,” he said. “Well if that’s the case then you’ll need 80 players to complete a game.

“That’s a nonsense. I don’t understand how a player can only give you 20 minutes. I’m looking for players to give me 90 minutes – regular, week in and week out.

“The challenge is down to Lenny, and the likes of Lenny, to show me he can do that. And if he does then he’s got a chance.”