Cobblers boss Curle says new development coach will have crucial role

Teenager Jay Williams has impressed when called into the Cobblers first team
Teenager Jay Williams has impressed when called into the Cobblers first team

The Cobblers are closing in on announcing who will be the club’s new development coach.

And manager Keith Curle has highlighted just how crucial the newly-created role is going to be for Town, and the future progress of the club.

Scott Pollock

Scott Pollock

As it stands, the Cobblers don’t run a reserve team, or an under-23 team, meaning there is a jump from the under-18s to the senior team.

That gap has been bridged by a clutch of the club’s young teenage talent this season, with the likes of Jay Williams and Scott Pollock in particular quickly taking to first-team football.

Others have also been given opportunities, including players such as Ryan Hughes, Morgan Roberts, Camron McWilliams and Sean Whaler.

In January, Williams, McWilliams, Hughes, Pollock, Jack Newell and Bradley Lashley all put pen to paper on senior professional contracts.

The players that have stepped up this year have done it very well. There are some that have got one foot on and then had to go back a step, there are others that have taken one and two steps

Cobblers boss Keith Curle

They join Whaler and Roberts in the first-team squad, meaning eight of the group that returns for pre-season next month are teenagers.

Curle has said that the slate is clean when everybody returns, and the players will all be judged on what they do from now on in, but it is highly unlikely all of those players will be first-team regulars.

So what is the plan for the youngsters who aren’t quite ready?

That is where the new development coach will come in.

Ryan Hughes

Ryan Hughes

Asked about how the search for the new coach is going, Curle said: “The club has held interviews, and I think we have had more than 50 applicants.

“We have narrowed that down to a shortlist, and they are very good applications.”

And the Town boss then explained what the role will entail.

“It is a role that is going to have four or five hats within it, because it is important the person who comes in knows the development path we want the players to go on,” said Curle.

Morgan Roberts

Morgan Roberts

“They have to have an understanding of the requirements from the first team down, and then also what is below the development squad as well.

“So they will be in touch with the youth as well as the development squad and the first team.

“It means there that will that continuity within all aspects of the football club, all geared towards the standards that are set at first-team level.

“The younger we can get that in place, then the easier it is for that progession from youth, to development and into the first team.”

It has been an excellent few years for the club’s academy.

Shaun McWilliams came through the ranks three years ago and is now a key first-team squad member.

You add to that the eight youngsters now on the senior books, and it appears the development department of the club is in good shape.

The under-18s were title winners before Christmas, and also enjoyed a good run in the FA Youth Cup before losing narrowly to Arsenal, and Curle has been impressed by what he has inherited.

He has certainly not been afraid to blood youngsters either, and he said: “The players that have stepped up this year have done it very well.

“There are some that have got one foot on and then had to go back a step, there are others that have taken one and two steps.

“I would say they have been arguably unnoticeable as being youth players playing in the first team, and I think that shows good progression.

“People like Jay Williams and Scotty Pollock, they have come in and they look comfortable within the environment which is pleasing.”

Curle is keen to see how the young players in the squad develop over the next few months, but he knows not all of them will progress at the same speed, or to the same level.

And he says a key part of the development coach’s role will be ensuring the players perhaps not involved in first-team match-days, still get out and play competitive football.

“One of the things we do need to look at, and what we will be looking at, is the games programme for the development squad,” said Curle.

“The best way for players to develop is in the training environment and the culture they are surrounded with, but obviously then they need games as well.

“When we first came in we went through a period of time where we had a lack of numbers and that meant we couldn’t have games and weren’t able to give them game time.

“So there will be a loans programme for some of those who haven’t taken a step up, but the starting point is pre-season.

“Everybody will come back, the young professionals, they will all come back and be straight into the fold .

“That is when their assessment starts, and if I think there is progression and the need is that they stay with us, then excellent, they will stay with us.

“If they need more time and still need a game programme, then they will go out on loan but still maintain their progress throughout the week by training with us.”