Cobblers academy 'couldn't be luckier' to have 'brave' Curle as first-team boss

Keith Curle handed a then-17-year-old Scott Pollock his Cobblers debut in January. Picture: Pete Norton
Keith Curle handed a then-17-year-old Scott Pollock his Cobblers debut in January. Picture: Pete Norton

Jon Brady believes Cobblers' academy 'could not be luckier' than to have Keith Curle as first-team boss and he says young players feel inspired by seeing the likes of Scott Pollock and Jay Williams force their way into the senior side.

Since being appointed Northampton manager 13 months ago, Curle has handed out a total of 87 appearances to eight different academy graduates.

The bulk of those have gone to Shaun McWilliams (48), who's now a first-team regular, but 18-year-olds Jay Williams (16) and Scott Pollock (11) have firmly established themselves under Curle's stewardship.

Morgan Roberts and Ryan Hughes have been on the fringes of the first-team while Sean Whaler and Camron McWilliams might also have played more if not for injury.

Nonetheless, Curle has consistently demonstrated his faith in young players despite having the pressure of trying win games, as highlighted on Saturday when Pollock and McWilliams started alongside Alan McCormack in victory over Cambridge United.

"The hardest thing for a first-team manager, when their job is on the line and they have to get three points week in and week out, is to create opportunities for young, inexperienced players," said U18s coach Brady.

"But Keith shows no fear to play these boys. He trusts in the conversations we have and he trusts in the players when seeing them in training and then he gives them the opportunity.

"You can't ask for more than that. In my opinion he's a brave manager in terms of playing these lads and giving them an opportunity.

"We couldn't be luckier as an academy right now with the manager we've got because he's brave enough to play these boys and give them opportunities in the first-team."

Not only do first-team opportunities aid the development of Pollock and co, it also acts as inspiration for players currently in the academy who dream of following in their footsteps.

"A lot of players within the academy are now quite excited," Brady revealed. "Jay was the first one and then you had Scotty and then Morgan's made appearances, Ryan Hughes has made appearances and Camron McWilliams has also been in the squad.

"It's huge for all the young players in the academy to see that and to know that, if they're good enough, they'll be given a chance."