With both the Under-23s and Under-18s top of the league, when do we start giving them first team minutes?
There`s no doubt about it, the kids are doing well. The Under-23s beat Millwall last night, while over the weekend the Under-18s thrashed Coventry 5-1, and both teams sit top of their respective leagues. The academy has provided us with Zach Clough, Josh Vela and Rob Holding in recent years, two of those yielding transfer fees (although whether Nottingham Forest and Arsenal got their men at a snip is another debate) and has recently been ranked amongst the top in the country.
Which leads to the question, should we be seeing more of these players, particularly the Under-23s, progressing through to the first team?
Partly due to necessity, this did happen under Neil Lennon and the period between his sacking and Phil Parkinson coming in. As well as the aforementioned three, a number of other players got game time as well before getting more regular football elsewhere, but this has slowed down a little in the last few years. Admittedly the transfer embargo never helped, the idiots at the EFL thinking a squad limit (fair enough) should include young players (not fair enough) blocking off the route to the first team.
Jeff King, Alex Perry, Jack Earing, Jake Turner and Connor Hall have all been involved with the first team set-up, but none of them on a really regular basis yet. Hall has been banging them in for the Under-23s. Now, that`s not to say they should be propelled straight into the starting lineup at Leeds on Friday. But it would be great to see more of a pathway for these players, who must obviously have potential, and regularly see a few of these names in the matchday squad and a few minutes here or there.
It should also be noted that I`m sat here behind a laptop. It`s Phil Parkinson, David Lee et al who see them regularly and are obviously more qualified to make a judgement. But they`re more likely to develop if they get some time with the first team rather than not break through a glass ceiling.
On a wider note, amongst the talk of B-teams and big clubs` Under-23 sides in the league, maybe the EFL (and Premier League) should insist on a small number of club-trained youngsters in the matchday squad, like some other leagues in Europe do.
What do other Wanderers fans think?