Academy Manager Dan Harris writes:
One of the really exciting parts of building a youth development programme at a club is having the opportunity to see young players and young staff make progress as they work at their craft.
A great example of this is young striker Slavi Spasov who showed a fantastic appetite for work last season and was rewarded with a first team debut, first senior goal and a professional contract as a result. This season Slavi has also been grafting unbelievably hard as he works back from surgery to repair a bone in his foot and, this week, saw him undertake an intensive four day rehab programme at St George’s Park working with the medical staff at the home of the England teams. Accompanied by our U18s physio Jack McGowan, who also travelled up to St George’s Park for some CPD, Slavi benefitted hugely from his time off site as he continues to work back to full fitness with our medical staff.
Wednesday’s EFL cup fixture against West Ham was a great learning opportunity for our young players and it was fantastic to see almost 50 of our young Academy players choosing to come and watch the game. Seeing five Academy graduates in the matchday squad acts as a huge motivation for these aspiring players as they work to try and emulate Shandon Baptiste, Sam Long and the others who have moved through the Academy programme into the first team squad.
On the grass, this weekend also sees our U15s travel to play West Ham whilst we have also arranged an U17s fixture vs Fulham that will see our 1st year scholars playing with some of our Under 16s as we continue with the development programme for our young players. Fixtures against these Category One Academies are an important part of our players development, and with our U23s also playing a return fixture with Premier League side Bournemouth next week, the tough tests come thick and fast for our youngsters.
I’d like to finish today’s Academy update by passing on the congratulations of all at club to our Lead PDP coach Leon Blackmore-Such and his partner Lauren who had their first baby this week. Leon and Lauren have had a long association with Oxford United and everyone at the club wishes them all the very best as they begin lives as parents.
Stay up to date with all things Academy by following the club’s official youth development twitter feed - @AcademyOUFC.
Proud History: Bright Future