Saturday, June 08, 2013

Young guns denied the opportunity to go for it

Every summer we talk about the importance of developing our youngsters and bringing them through into the first team, and every year we're disappointed with the way that pans out. In some instances they're given their chance to prove themselves but unfortunately turn out to be not be quite good enough, but in most cases they don't get an opportunity, with imports taking precedence as under-pressure managers and owners seek a quick fix.

It seems we're not alone among Premier League clubs, though, judging by the findings of a recent survey reported by the BBC published to coincide with the start of the U21 European Championships in Israel. It found that only 35 English U21 players appeared in the top flight last season, and that together they got less game time than ever before. Five clubs - Chelsea, Man City, Swansea, Stoke and Wigan - didn't field a single English U21 player, though it's perhaps a bit harsh to criticise the Swans for that given that they're Welsh...

For those concerned with the state and future development of our national game, the statistics make for grim reading, but they should also have interest for the individual clubs. If we (and clubs like us) are serious about cutting down on expenditure, living within our means and becoming more sustainable, then having a productive youth set-up and a willingness to blood youngsters when it's felt they're ready will be key to our success. A make-or-break campaign lies ahead for at least two of our English U21s, Little Big Lad and James Tavernier, while eyes will also be on other youngsters like Gael Bigirimana, Shane Ferguson and Haris Vuckic who've also had a sniff of first-team action.


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