This season has seen a significant number of changes behind the scenes within the Academy setup as we look to help build a vibrant and productive future for the football club.
As part of this process the Academy Staff have set ten key targets that we’re working towards achieving by the end of the season. We firmly believe that Oxford United can go toe to toe with every other club in the area as we look to identify and develop the most talented young players in this region - these targets are designed to help us have a real crack at achieving this.
One of our key aims as an Academy is to win a minimum of five games against Category One opposition (the top tier of Academies) this season. Given the huge differences in funding seen at this level, this will be a tough challenge to hit but I would like extend congratulations to Leon Blackmore-Such & Chris Hackett’s U18s who secured the first of these wins with a well-deserved 3-2 victory away at West Bromwich Albion this week. Seeing our 16 and 17-year olds come out on top against a team that included a number of International players was hugely positive and will hopefully set the U-18s side up for a strong season.
As part of the development programme for our under-23s squad we have entered the prestigious Premier League Cup this year. This “Champions League-format” competition will potentially see our young Yellows squad drawn in a four team group alongside some of the biggest teams in the country giving fans a chance to see some of the best young players in England competing here in Oxfordshire. Our 23s side have a final qualifying game away at Southend next week which, if they win, will see them through to the group stages of this competition where they will compete alongside all 20 Premier League Clubs.
Finally, I want to extend congratulations to Karl Robinson and all the first team staff and players for their well-deserved victory against Coventry in the Carabao Cup earlier this week. As I have said previously, Karl has brought an energy and vibrancy to the club and anyone who watched the game at Grenoble Road on Tuesday will have seen this in evidence from the players out on the pitch. From an Academy point of view, it was great to see Shandon Baptiste get his first home start and Fabio Lopes come off the bench and I hope this inspires other young players throughout our Academy programme to raise their levels as they try to be the “next man up.”
Make sure you follow the Official Academy Twitter feed @AcademyOUFC to stay up to date with all the Youth Development news here at Oxford United.
Proud History: Bright Future