Austin wants to make sure the Cobblers keep hold of their young talent

Teenage midfielder Shaun McWilliams
Teenage midfielder Shaun McWilliams

Boss Dean Austin is ‘excited’ by the young talent coming through at Sixfields, and is determined it will be the Cobblers who benefit from their talent and not football’s predatory ‘big fish’.

Morgan Roberts and Sean Whaler are the latest players to roll off the Cobblers academy production line.

Sean Whaler

Sean Whaler

The 17-year-olds both signed their first professional contracts earlier this month, and that means there are now five homegrown players in the Town first-team squad.

Roberts and Whaler join Shaun McWilliams, Joe Iaciofano and James Goff in the senior ranks, and Austin believes there is another crop of youngsters waiting in the wings who are more than capable of making the step up.

As well as the five that have signed professional deals at Sixfields, other Town academy players have also been tempted away in their early teens to other clubs from higher up the football food chain.

As examples, Fraser Hornby was snapped up by Everton, and Glenn Middleton went to Norwich City before moving on to Rangers, and Austin wants to make sure that players don’t feel they have to go so far afield in the future.

As a country, we are obsessed with the bigger teams, and those bigger teams do try to hoover up your best players, but I want to get us to a stage where people don’t want to leave

Cobblers boss Dean Austin

Instead, he wants them to think they can get where they need to go by staying at Sixfields, where they know they have a pathway into the first-team squad.

That is something which certainly paid off in recent years for other academy graduates, such as Michael Jacobs and Ivan Toney, who broke into the Cobblers first team, and won moves away, with the pair currently contracted at Wigan Athletic and Newcastle United respectively.

“I have spoken to Kelvin (Thomas) and James (Whiting) about this,” said Austin.

“I have also spoken to Trevor (Gould), and we want to get to a stage, where instead of the big fish just coming in and trying to hoover up your best players, they want to stay.

Morgan Roberts

Morgan Roberts

“As a country, we are obsessed with the bigger teams, and those bigger teams do try to hoover up your best players, but I want to get us to a stage where people don’t want to leave.

“They don’t want to leave because we have a good academy, there is a route through here.

“We have a lovely environment, a good environment to be in and people want to come and work here, and want an opportunity to come in and express their talent.

“That is what I really want to get to, and I am here for them, but my priority is that I want to win football matches.”

James Goff

James Goff

Austin is a big advocate of giving youth its chance, and he is excited about the players currently in the club’s academy.

He praised academy boss Gould and his team, and admitted he just hopes he is still around to reap the benefits of their good work.

“The guys in the academy are doing a fantastic job, and I want people to be excited about what we have, and I think we have an opportunity here,” said Austin, who began his coaching career in the youth set-up at Watford, where he first worked with a 13-year-old John-Joe O’Toole.

“We have short-term targets, medium-term targets and longer-term targets, and I have to look at the shorter-term immediately, but I will always have my eye on the medium and longer term.

“Hopefully I am going to be here long enough to be able to enjoy the ones that are coming through on the back of Sean and Morgan.”

Joe Iaciofano

Joe Iaciofano