Keith Curle will be at the PTS Academy Stadium tonight to run the rule over the next generation as the Cobblers Under-18s take on King’s Lynn Town in the first round of the FA Youth Cup (ko 7.30pm).
The Town boss has been in the hot seat for less than a month and his focus has been on successfully turning the first team’s fortunes around, but he also says he has been impressed by what he has seen of the club’s young players.
I have a good relationship with Jon (Brady). I said to him when I first came in that the players he recommends and think are good enough and ready to train with us, then send them up and we will utilise them if they are good enough and the time is rightCobblers boss Keith Curle
Curle’s predecessor Dean Austin was constantly talking up the young talent at the club, and in the summer handed first team contracts to youth teamers Morgan Roberts and Sean Whaler.
Academy graduate Shaun McWilliams has been a regular pick for Curle, while this season the likes of Jack Daldy and Scott Pollock have been included in match day squads, and Jay Williams has been another to emerge.
The former Kingsthorpe College student is one who has certainly caught Curle’s eye, as he was handed a Football League debut last week, coming on as a substitute in the 5-0 win at Macclesfield Town.
Along with Whaler, he was on the bench for Saturday’s win over OIdham, and it seems the club’s home-grown talent is already making its mark on Curle, who admits he has yet to really get the chance to watch them close up - but that will change when he takes in the cup clash with King’s Lynn.
Asked if he has been impressed with the club’s youngsters, the former England defender said: “I have only had two or three glimpses of them.
“We trained one day up at the college and the youth team were training in the morning, so I was able to watch Jon putting on a training session, and I introduced myself to all of the players
“At the moment, a lot of it has been feedback from Jon, as they have had a fantastic start to the season.
“The next progression for some of the players is the pathway into the first team, and sometimes that might mean going out on loan to go up a level and go out and play in men’s football.
“But we can then continue to monitor them and see how they are doing.”
Brady has done a fantastic job with the under-18s team, who are unbeaten this season and sit top of the EFL Youth Alliance League, and Curle is trusting the Australian when it comes to those who may be ready to step up to mix with the first team pros.
“I have a good relationship with Jon,” said Curle.
“I said to him when I first came in that the players he recommends and think are good enough and ready to train with us, then send them up and we will utilise them if they are good enough and the time is right.
“Jay came up and he has been doing very well, and it was nice to give him his opportunity (at Macclesfield).
“He didn’t show any nerves, or any doubt about his ability, and I think that is important.
“I think he enjoyed the experience, he enjoyed being in and around the first team, and the more he comes up, the more vocal he will become.
“I also think it’s important, that rather than just bringing one lad up at a time, if there is the opportunity to bring two or three up then that makes it easier for them to settle in.
“And the other lads who have come up as well, it didn’t stand out that they were young players which I think is good.”