Looking at the oldest age group in the academy, it’s all about how we can help our second year scholars demonstrate the right levels of potential and playing capabilities to be involved with Danny’s squad beyond this season.
We’ve certainly been encouraged by some of the early signs, as Harry Jewitt-White and Izzy Kaba have had involvement with the first team in training, pre-season games and on the bench at Fleetwood.
We’re aiming to see if we can maximise our U18 players joining in the with senior side during sessions when we feel they’re ready for it and when Danny has the need to promote players into that environment.
An encouraging sign is that we’re pushing forward with our relationship with the University of Portsmouth and utilising a number of their current students as interns in different areas of the academy, focusing on psychology, conditioning and analysis.
We’re also back with the U16s and having to make decisions about scholarships in December, as per the EFL regulations.
We’ll look really closely at all of them and have been bringing the players in during the school holidays so some of them have the chance to train with the U18s.
That’s really beneficial, as it lets all the coaches see how they cope with that step up and deal with the learning, while also showing us how they integrate with the older lads off the pitch.
Our youngest age groups only came back just over two weeks ago and so it’s still very early for them.
Our expectation is that they enjoy themselves in our programme, while also learning and feeling that they’re being holistically developed.
It’s been very frantic for me since I arrived at the club back in April – as you would expect with any new role.
I’ve been fortunate enough to have great support from the executive, while communication channels are clear with Danny and the first team staff.
My family have also moved down to the local area, which has obviously helped me to settle in here.
I’m well aware of what steps we need to implement in order to move the academy forward this season and beyond.
It’s important to remember that we’re talking about young individuals, who will all have their own unique journey to go on.
You have to take into account that some will be late developers, while others might be experiencing difficulties in their life.
Our role is to support them as best as we can, getting them to a level that enhances the strengths they have – those that got them through the door in the first place – and also recognising where they can improve.