Crewe Alexandra manager David Artell says that our commitment at Under-23 level means we have to add extra numbers to our first-team squad.
Ever since the arrival of Dario Gradi, Crewe Alexandra has continued to produce our own home-grown players to play in our first-team and last season was no different with 15 former Academy graduates used in our senior squad at some stage.
The final day of the season saw Artell name a starting line-up made up completely of Academy graduate and two goals from the now older statesman, Shaun Miller, secured a 2-1 victory over Cheltenham Town on the day.
Artell admits that it can be difficult to juggle the first-team with our Under-23 fixture list and it is something he is aware of as we prepare for next season. The club have recently offered six scholars, pro deals.
David explained: “We are different from other Academies in the first or second categories because we have to combine our first-team with the Under-23s. Most our Under-23s are in our first team squad!
“Every other club has a separate Under-23 squad and they train and prepare separately from the first-team. We have to combine ours and it can be difficult because the Under-23s can play Friday and we will need four or five of them to sit on our bench the next day. It is the same if they play Monday and we have a first-team game on the Tuesday night.
“There is some travelling involved at Under-23 level. At the beginning and towards the end of the season, they play southern based clubs and it takes a fair commitment from us to combine the two.
“We have to make sure that we have the numbers to fulfil the fixtures, whilst also focussing on their development. Perhaps there should be more emphasis on their development than them fulfilling fixtures but we can only go by the rules.
He added: "We know we have to play the Under-23 games because of our Academy status and plan accordingly."