New structure designed create 'smoother pathway' for academy players and stop 'yo-yo culture' between leagues

Patience might be required whilst club implement changes

Friday, 7th May 2021, 10:24 am
Caleb Chukwuemeka has made 27 appearances this season.

Cobblers' decision to make structural changes has partly been made with the aim of creating a 'better, smoother' pathway for academy players to break into the first-team.

Shaun McWilliams and Caleb Chukwuemeka are two academy graduates who have featured prominently this season, making 35 and 27 appearances respectively, while Scott Pollock may have joined them had it not been for injury.

But otherwise it has proved a difficult season for youngsters to make their way in the first-team, partly because the stakes have been so high with Town fighting for their lives at the bottom of League One.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

But now relegation is confirmed, chairman Kelvin Thomas is keen to implement a newly-formed committee with the intention of creating a closer bond and a more united philosophy throughout the whole club.

"There was a big disconnect between our academy and the first-team in terms of style of play and that's something we want to address," said Thomas.

"I don't think it's necessarily stopped players breaking through but this should mean it will now be a smoother, better pathway through to the first-team.

"More of it is about the type of player and building into League One as well because we want to have a stronger group when we do go up.

"We have that in the back of our minds because the existing structures have been fine to get out of League Two - we've shown we can do that.

"There might need to be a bit more patience, especially if we do look at younger players and our academy players, but we still need to get the balance right and win matches. We fell short this year and we need to do better."

The club are also hoping these changes will help to stop a 'yo-yo culture' between League One and League Two.

Chief executive James Whiting added: "This industry naturally has a short-term focus because we're in a results business and if you don't get results, problems start to hit, so you've always got to look at the short-term.

"There are more discussions we're having around other structures but it's all about enabling better decision-making and having a more strategic and medium-term approach to everything, from recruitment to development of academy players.

"It's all about benefitting the club in the long run and trying to stop that yo-yo culture when we do get into League One and not having to rebuild the squad when we do go up. We want to be ready and equipped when we go up again."

The development of youth players is something that means a lot to current first-team boss and former U18s head coach Jon Brady.

"It would be good to have a succession plan so you can pinpoint certain players over time in terms of youngsters coming through and monitoring their development," said Brady.

"That's something that is really exciting. You might pinpoint a player who's 16 to be a first-time regular by the time he's 20.

"If you're working towards those type of things, it's exciting. My background is developing young talent so I'm hugely excited about that and it's refreshing that we're looking at this and we're going to implement this."