Dan Harris writes:
Over the course of the last ten days we have seen a number of our young players take significant steps forward in their development as they work to try and build a career in the game.
First year Professionals Kyran Lofthouse and Kevin Berkoe from our Under 21s group have continued to impress whilst playing out on loan in Conference South with Oxford City.
Being exposed to senior men’s football for the first time whilst also training regularly with our first team group here at the club, are important milestones in the development of our young players – thinking back two years to when I first started at the club, Shandon Baptiste was at a similar stage to where Kyran and Kevin are now, playing out at Hampton & Richmond on loan and there is no doubt that this pathway is one that all our current young players will be looking to emulate.
Owen James, Yoav Sade, Aaron McCreadie are also all out on loan playing regularly in the Senior game and it will be positive to see them getting plenty of game time over the Christmas period.
Our U18s have been drawn at home against AFC Wimbledon in the semi-finals of the EFL League Cup having seen off Luton Town with an impressive 5-1 victory in the previous round. I was particularly pleased for midfielder Leon Chambers-Parillon who not only captained the side against his former club but was also able to get on the scoresheet and chip in with a pair of assists– an important moment for the young man to go back and play against his former team mates and showcase his development.
In our younger age groups, last weekend saw us take on Brighton and Tottenham in games that saw ten players playing across with older age groups. We believe it is crucial to stretch and challenge players at the appropriate time and these opportunities to test yourself against older players are important steps in helping our young players with their development. This weekend sees us take on Swindon Town…every single young player and staff understands what these games mean here at Oxford United so will be positive to see how our youngsters step into the challenge!
Behind the scenes I’d like to welcome Andrew Caton to the Club who is joining us from Crystal Palace as our new Head of Academy Medical Services.
Andrew is a hugely experienced physiotherapist who also played professionally before moving into the medical field – it is a mark of the progress that the club is making that we have been able to secure the services of a man of Andrew’s calibre and we’d like to welcome him and his family back to Oxfordshire.
Looking ahead, this week will see over 50 players from the Academy attending the Man City game as they look to learn from some of the best talent in the world playing here at Grenoble Road. This fixture will also give all the club’s players, staff and fans the opportunity to remember Jim Smith who was such an iconic figure here at the club and who gave a number of young players their chance during his time here as manager – sure to be a special, if somewhat poignant night.
Stay up to date with all things Academy by following the club’s official youth development twitter feed - @AcademyOUFC.
Proud History: Bright Future