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Saints aim to buck Premier League trend
7:00am Thursday 5th July 2012 in Saints News
Saints will have to buck the Premier League trend if they are to meet their target of 50 per cent of the first team being produced from the club’s academy.
Though promotion to the top flight is a huge boost for supporters, as well as the finances of the club, the difficulty in getting academy players through to the first team has increased exponentially.
Statistics produced by the Daily Echo show that last season just 70 of the 522 players who figured for top flight clubs in league matches were produced via that side’s academy. That is an average of 3.5 players per club.
But even that statistic is somewhat misleading, with many of those players figuring in just minor roles, 11 signed by clubs when aged 14-16, and some sides, such as Manchester United, boasting a large percentage of the total.
United had ten of the 70 total themselves, including veterans such as Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs.
Promoted sides Norwich, Swansea and QPR had just two players each.
There is certainly much to be applauded in the ambition of Nigel Adkins, pictured, and others to get half of their team coming through via the academy and the club should continue to invest in their youth policy. However, once you reach the elite of top flight it becomes much harder to blood youngsters when you are competing against the world’s best players.
Saints do have the culture of having always produced youngsters through what was first known as a youth policy and more recently an academy system.
Going back to Matt Le Tissier, the Wallace brothers and Alan Shearer right through to Theo Walcott, Gareth Bale and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, there has rarely been a shortage.
They are backing that up their current ambitions by insisting they will not even entertain offers for sought after 16- year-old left back Luke Shaw.
A 50 per cent target, within a loose but not too distant timeframe, is a huge ask though.
Saints start with a base of having had just one first team regular figure last season who was produced via the club’s academy, and that was Adam Lallana who developed at St Mary’s after being signed from Bournemouth at the age of 12. Ben Reeves also made two appearances as a substitute in league matches.
Nigel Adkins did give a brief taste of first team action to Shaw, Jack Stephens and James Ward- Prowse in the cups.
Those three, along with Calum Chambers, will be part of the first team squad for next season.