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Academy Our Hope For Elite Players

29 May 2014

Neil Baker says that we would love to have more home grown players in the first-team

Neil Baker says that our real elite players will have to continue to come from the club’s renowned Academy. The long-serving coach, assistant and scout is full of praise for the work Dario Gradi and his coaching staff continue to deliver within the Academy structure and Baker says he is looking forward to working with more emerging players after signing a talented collection of first year professionals this summer.

Baker says that manager Steve Davis will continue to promote our own home grown players if they can show that they are good enough to play in our first-team. Davis has already accelerated the careers of the likes of goalkeeper Ben Garratt, Ollie Turton, Billy Waters, George Ray, Ryan Colclough and Liam Nolan since succeeding Dario as first-team manager.

Baker told “We love to give our home grown players a chance. If they are good enough to play at this level then we would play them. The manager has always been willing to throw them in at the deep end and has probably been braver than even Dario would have been with some of them.

“Steve has never been afraid to give a young player a chance if they have done well and that is why training and the Under-21 games are important to the younger players. It gives them a chance to catch the eye.

“We have already shown that we have six or seven who are good enough to play at this level and we know how important the Academy is to this club. Our chance to have elite players comes through the work Dario and his staff achieve in the Academy. We cannot go out and buy elite players.

“We have produced the likes of Westwood, Powell and Murphy in recent seasons and hopefully the likes of Clayton and Colclough will follow them.

“It is not easy to keep on producing players to play at this level and when there is a gap then we have to look elsewhere to fill the gaps with permanent or loan signings. That isn’t easy either but the structure is there and everyone works together to make it work. The senior players buy into what this club is all about and try and help the younger ones.

Baker added: “The philosophy here works and we talk about our players, both young and old almost every day.”

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