Thomas: Cobblers 'getting a good reputation' for developing young players

Chairman cites Chukwuemeka, McWilliams and Morton as examples

Wednesday, 18th August 2021, 5:20 pm
Shaun McWilliams (left), Liam Cross (middle), Caleb Chukwuemeka (second from right) and Scott Pollock (right) have all come through the academy and made first-team appearances in 2021.

Cobblers chairman Kelvin Thomas believes the club are gaining a 'good reputation' for developing young players, whether on loan or through their own academy, after Caleb Chukwuemeka' s move to Aston Villa.

Chukwuemeka emerged through Northampton's youth ranks and made 28 first-team appearances before completing his Premier League move on Monday, following a similar path to Ivan Toney.

Fellow academy graduates Shaun McWilliams and Scott Pollock are both part of the senior squad this season while Liam Cross, Max Dyche and Josh Flanagan all signed pro deals in the summer.

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Not only that but the club have also helped develop the likes of Callum Morton and Scott Wharton on loan, and Charlie Goode was last year sold for a club-record fee after signing only 12 months earlier.

Thomas said: “The main positive for the club we take is that it continues to prove there is a pathway from our club from the academy either into our first team like Shaun McWilliams, Scott Pollock and others have shown, or into the Premier League like Caleb, Carney and Ivan.

“We are getting a good reputation for developing players whether it’s through the academy like Caleb, with players we have signed or bought like Charlie Goode or loan players like Callum Morton. It’s why Premier League clubs are taking an interest in our players and also loaning us their players as they know we will look after them and develop them.

“The article in the programme last weekend was a proud moment to see that last season saw the highest number of academy appearances for the club in a decade and even more so that the season we bought the club (2015/16) there were no first-team appearances from an academy player whatsoever.

"That is huge progress that has not gone unnoticed across the industry.

“Everyone knows that developing players is not an overnight project but it is pleasing to start seeing the investment and work pay off. These increased numbers and Caleb going to the Premier League is especially testament to the hard work and dedication from everyone in the academy at the club and they should also be very proud."